Mexico City, Mexico — Amid the escalation of conflict between Israeli forces and Palestinian resistance movements, the Mexican government announced a rescue mission to repatriate around 300 Mexican nationals stranded in Israel.
During his daily press conference, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced that two military airplanes would be used to retrieve hundreds of Mexican nationals looking to escape the violent conflict in Israel.
The two Mexican Air Force aircraft traveled to Tel Aviv on Monday. The operation was carried out by Mexico’s Secretary of National Defense (SEDENA) and its Foreign Ministry.
As reported by Foreign Minister Alicia Bárcenas, the first humanitarian flight bringing home 135 nationals took off from Israel on Tuesday afternoon.
According to Mexican authorities, three Mexicans were missing after Saturday’s attacks by the Palestinian militia Hamas, with Bárcenas sharing rumors that two Mexicans were reportedly taken hostage by the group.
However, the Israeli embassy in Panama shared that Panamanian Daryelis Denises Sáez Batista and her Mexican husband, David Heiblum, were found alive and well. The status of the remaining two missing Mexicans remains unknown.
According to the Foreign Ministry, there are approximately 5,000 Mexican residents in Israel, two in the Gaza Strip and 35 in the West Bank.
Mexico’s stand on the Palestinian/Israeli conflict
During his morning briefing, López Obrador condemned the violence in Israel but refrained from taking a definitive position on the conflict.
“We do not want to take sides because we want to be a factor in the search for a peaceful solution … What is required is a search for peaceful solutions, dialogue, and avoiding the escalation of confrontation and violence,” said the president.
However, the Mexican Foreign Ministry issued a statement condemning “any terrorist act” while “acknowledging Israel’s right to self-defense.”