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Three Filipinos remain in Gaza City amid Israel-Hamas war

MANILA, Philippines — Three Filipino nationals remain in Gaza City, the Department of Foreign Affairs Wednesday, as Israel continued its bombardment of the Palestinian enclave. 

These include a father and child who are in a hospital, Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Eduardo de Vega said in an interview with ABS-CBN News Channel. 

“They’re in the hospital so we can’t just take them out… We’re trying to make humanitarian aid reach Gaza. Hopefully, every resident as well as foreign nationals could be given protection and assistance,” de Vega said. 

Gaza City is the largest and most populous in the besieged Palestinian territory. Gaza City and the northern part of the enclave have been hit especially hard by air strikes, and Israel’s military has told civilians to relocate to the south. 

The Philippine government earlier ordered the mandatory evacuation of 131 Filipinos in Gaza. Most of them moved near the Rafah border crossing near Egypt. 

“Let’s hope that they’re able to start crossing to the border with other Filipinos who are now in the south, hopefully, by the weekend,” de Vega said. 

Meanwhile, two Filipinos remain missing in Israel after Palestinian militant group Hamas attacked the nation’s southern towns on October 7. According to the DFA official, one of the missing Filipinos is a woman with an Israeli passport and the other was likely taken hostage. 

Sixty overseas Filipino workers have arrived from Israel, and around 120 are still expected to come home. 

De Vega also said that the government may raise the alert level in the occupied West Bank and call for voluntary repatriation. West Bank is currently under Alert Level 2. 

He said that four out of 122 Filipinos in the West Bank expressed intent to leave the Palestinian territory. 

Over the weekend, the Philippines announced the voluntary repatriation program in Lebanon due to the conflict between Israel and the Iran-backed militant group Hezbollah. There are 17,500 Filipinos, mostly workers, in Lebanon.

Hamas gunmen killed more than 1,400 people in Israel and took 222 hostages. Meanwhile, 5,791 people have been killed in Gaza, many of them children. — Gaea Katreena Cabico