First Privately Organized Canadian Evacuation Flight Departs Israel

As Canadians boarded the inaugural evacuation flight from Israel, they expressed frustration over a lack of clear communication from the Canadian embassy in the country. 

This first flight, a privately arranged Dash 8 charter, took off from Haifa, Israel, carrying mostly Canadian passengers and landed in Larnaca, Cyprus, an hour later. 

Two more private Canadian flights, accommodating up to 267 passengers, are scheduled in the next two days. Additionally, the Canadian government has committed to organizing a larger evacuation via Canadian military planes, likely commencing on Friday.

Antonella Kamien, a 32-year-old Canadian living in Israel for eight years, emphasized the urgency of the situation. She decided to leave in the wake of a cross-border assault by Hamas militants that claimed over 1,000 Israeli lives. Her motivation for leaving was to protect her five-year-old son from the ongoing conflict. However, she expressed frustration with the Canadian embassy’s response, describing it as vague and slow compared to other nations’ efforts to evacuate their citizens.

Many Canadians, including Ms. Kamien, only learned about Wednesday’s evacuation flight through social media, as commercial flights from Israel were either cancelled or fully booked. Stephen Arbib, a Toronto business executive, privately financed these evacuation flights due to the mounting frustrations and lack of clear assistance.

Another evacuee, Ben Shain, living in Tel Aviv, decided to leave after a Hamas rocket struck a building close to his apartment. He shared concerns about the proximity to active conflict and expressed uncertainty about the Canadian government’s evacuation plans.

Yido Mecica, a 27-year-old from Thornhill, Ont., working in Tel Aviv, received generic responses when contacting a federal emergency number. His attempts to book a flight to Spain were swiftly cancelled. Feeling the danger escalated, he conveyed a loss of trust in the Canadian government’s response.

The situation remains fraught with uncertainty and unease for Canadians in Israel as they grapple with the ongoing conflict and await evacuation.

Earlier we reported that the government is preparing to evaluate Canadians from Israel in the coming days. Canadians have criticized the government for the prolonged delay.

Source: The Globe and Mail

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