Image source, Getty Images
The UK is arranging flights to get stranded British nationals out of Israel, the Foreign Office has said.
The first plane was expected to leave Tel Avivon Thursday, with more flights planned “in the coming days, subject to security”.
Those eligible to leave will be contacted directly and British nationals should not go to airports unless they are called to.
A team of diplomats has been sent to Israel to help people flying to the UK.
The Foreign Office said it is “working to ensure the flight can proceed as soon as possible.”
The UK government said earlier this week it would not arrange evacuation flights because commercial routes were still available.
But British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, EasyJet, Ryanair, Wizz Air, Air France, Lufthansa and Emirates have all suspended flights in recent days.
In other UK developments:
International Aid Minister Andrew Mitchell said a review of funding for Palestinian refugees could mean the government will start moving “essential humanitarian supplies forward near the region”. He told the BBC the UK would “do whatever is necessary to play our part in meeting humanitarian need”Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has chaired an Israel policing roundtable in Downing Street, ahead of protests expected this weekendMr Sunak has also announced £3m to help protect schools, synagogues and other Jewish community buildingsKing Charles has held talks in Buckingham with Chief Rabbi Sir Ephraim Mirvis. It comes after palace sources said yesterday that the King condemns the “barbaric acts of terrorism in Israel”The government-arranged flights will be chartered by the Foreign Office but are commercial services. Each passenger will be charged £300.
A statement said British nationals, including dual nationals, and dependants if travelling with a British national normally resident in the UK, would be invited to take up seats.
All seats for the first flight have been allocated, a British official at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport told the BBC.
Those who will be travelling on the flight have been notified by text message.
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A number of countries have already completed flights to get people home from Israel, including Canada, France, Italy and Poland.
Most airlines stopped flying direct between Israel and the UK earlier this week, and Virgin Atlantic and British Airways pulled their last remaining daily service on Thursday after a BA flight was forced to turn back over security concerns.
It has left people struggling to find tickets for the few remaining commercial routes operating.
Laurence Julius, 67, is in Tel Aviv with his wife Lyn, where they had been visiting family.
They have registered with the Foreign Office, but they have not been contacted about a flight.
Image source, Reuters
Image caption, King Charles with Chief Rabbi Sir Ephraim Mirvis at Buckingham Palace
Mr Julius is eager to return to London as he is the primary carer of his 92-year-old mother, who has chronic health issues. His children in London have stepped in to help care for her while he is away.
“It’s not optimal that we are stuck here, to put it mildly,” he said.
After a BA flight was cancelled, he said the airline “tried to book us on every possible route” but all flights were “absolutely full”.
Media caption, Watch: Lyse Doucet moves to safety during live Israel report
The Foreign Office confirmed on Thursday that families of British diplomats were leaving Israel as a “precautionary measure”.
It stressed the embassy in Israel continued to operate, and British nationals could seek consular assistance.
A spokesperson for the Foreign Office said: “The FCDO continues to advise against all travel to parts of Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and to advise against all but essential travel to all other parts.”
Meanwhile, Downing Street said the UK will send surveillance aircraft and two Royal Navy ships to the eastern Mediterranean in a military package “to support Israel”.
Under the plans, a Royal Navy task group will be moved to the area next week to support humanitarian efforts.
At least 100 “reservists and active duty soldiers” are understood to have travelled from the UK to Israel to serve in the Israel Defence Forces, the Israeli embassy in the UK said.
The Israeli government has indicated it is preparing to launch a ground military operation inside Gaza in response to Hamas’s deadly attacks at the weekend that have left 1,300 dead.
Authorities say more than 1,300 have also been killed in Gaza since Israel launched retaliatory air strikes, with 338,000 displaced.
In a call with Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak called for the country to keep its crossing with Gaza open for “humanitarian and consular reasons”, Downing Street said.