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El Al evacuated Israelis stranded in Australia with a direct flight home and is preparing to carry out a similar operation in Columbia.

By United with Israel Staff

In a historic first, El Al organized a marathon direct flight to and from Australia to evacuate about 230 stranded Israelis, of which 80 came from New Zealand, because of border and flight closures due to worldwide efforts to contain the coronavirus. The plane landed in Perth on Tuesday and will take off for a direct flight back to Israel on Wednesday, reported The Jerusalem Post.

Israeli Embassies in Australia’s capital Canberra and New Zealand’s capital Wellington worked for days to coordinate the airlift. This included helping Israelis in both countries to reach Perth and for those in New Zealand to get permission to enter Australia. Arranging security and logistics for the El Al flight to land in Perth were also required.

On Tuesday, it was also reported that Israel was sending another El Al plane to Colombia to bring back 150 stranded backpackers.

The flight is scheduled to leave for Bogota at 10 p.m. on Wednesday, according to a Foreign Ministry statement.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry Deputy Director-General Ephraim Modi is also working to arrange flights from remote locations in Bolivia where many Israeli backpackers are located.

Additional non-stop rescue flights are being arranged for Israelis stranded in Brazil, Costa Rica and India assuming the Foreign Ministry can obtain appropriate permits from those countries.

Foreign Ministry and diplomatic efforts have already benefited Israelis stranded in Italy, Ukraine, Croatia and Peru, as hundreds have managed to return home on specially arranged flights.

The Foreign Ministry continues to urge Israelis abroad to return home as travel restrictions and border closures worldwide continue to intensify. El Al, Arkia and Israir are planning specific flights to places where there are large concentration of Israelis.

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