Fiji’s Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka thanked everyone involved as a chartered Fiji Airways flight, carrying 255 passengers, including a little over 200 Fijians who had traveled to Jerusalem to participate in the Feast of Tabernacles, successfully departed from Ben Gurion Airport amid the recent conflict between Israel and Hamas.
Among the passengers were students from Fiji’s AICAT (Agricultural Institutes of the Center for Agricultural Technology) who were studying agriculture in Israel, as well as a group of Pacific Islanders who were part of the pilgrim tour to Israel.
Acknowledging the complexity of the mission, Prime Minister Rabuka conveyed his appreciation to the Fiji Airways crew and Incident Team, as well as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, for their coordination and arrangements with Fiji’s international allies. He said that this collaboration and support were essential in ensuring the safe repatriation of Fijian citizens.
“Their dedication and expertise have made this mission possible and have reunited our citizens with their families and loved ones. This mission is a historic one for the Fijian Government, as it represents our very first rescue operation,” Rabuka said. “The successful repatriation of our citizens is a testament to the commitment and determination of our nation to safeguard the well-being of all Fijians, no matter where they are in the world.
“The collective strength of our nation in times of need is a source of great pride and unity. The safe return of these Fijians is a testament to the resilience of our nation, and the Fijian spirit that binds us together. We will continue to work diligently to ensure the well-being and safety of all Fijians, both at home and abroad.”
Rabuka also extended his sympathy to those affected by the recent conflict, stating, “Our thoughts are with the people of the region, and we hope for a swift and lasting resolution that brings peace and stability to all.”
The contingent departed from Fiji two weeks ago with the original plan to leave Israel on October 11. However, due to the ongoing conflict in Gaza, they had to depart one day earlier than scheduled. They are expected to arrive in Fiji at 3am tomorrow October 12.
Photo: Kelepi Abariga/Fiji Govt