Kerala woman in Israel says Hamas attacked southern region; thousands of Malayalis move to bunkers

Shiny Babu, Keralite in Israel. Photo: Manorama News

Jerusalem: Palestinian militant group Hamas attacked South Israel without a warning triggering panic across the country on Saturday. Talking to Manorama News Shiny Babu, a Keralite employed in Israel revealed that armed men opened fire at innocent people in the streets.

“ The attack was well-planned. Though Israeli residents are experienced with militant attacks, it is for the first time the government is identifying it as a war. The Palestinian intruders are unleashing violence here. At present, South Israel is hit by the violence. Numerous Malayalis are employed in this region,” said Shiny Babu.

A car is seen on fire following a rocket attack from the Gaza Strip in Ashkelon, southern Israel. Photo: AFP

When the news of the Hamas attack made headlines, tension gripped numerous Kerala homes that have their family members eking out a living in the country. According to reports, thousands of Malayalis have moved to bunkers in the war-torn Israel.

Over 6,000 Keralites in Israel
"According to estimates, there are around 6,000 Keralaites, mostly nurses. In many places there are bunkers and many have started to move into it and are eagerly waiting for this impasse to end," said a Keralaite in Israel.

Israel has been the favourite destination for Kerala nurses as apart from working in hospitals, many are employed as caregivers to elderly people living alone.

“I am now speaking from the bunker and can hear the sounds of explosions. There have been such situations in the past, but this time it appears it’s very strong. At the moment we have supplies to last a while in the bunkers," said a Malayali nurse, who has been working in Israel for eight years.

Another Kerala nurse working close to Jerusalem said Saturday was the first day in a long time that such a thing has happened. “We have been told that whenever there are issues, they will sound an alarm and then everyone should move to safe zones,” said the nurse.

According to reports, the Indian Embassy has started a control room to coordinate the rescue. The Ministry of External Affairs has asked Indians in Israel to exercise caution amidst the sudden flare up of Israel-Palestine relations on Saturday. The MEA has asked Indians to stay close to safety shelters in an advisory.

Meanwhile, the husband of another Malayali nurse in Israel said she was safe and away from the conflict zones. “She said utmost caution has been sounded due to the developments that began on Saturday morning and alerts will be provided on mobiles. Issues are in the borders, but a general caution has been sounded,” he said.

Israel's national rescue service says at least 40 people have been killed in a wide-ranging Hamas assault into Israel.

The latest toll came from the Magen David Adom rescue service as fighting was still underway on Saturday. Hospitals in Israel are treating hundreds of wounded people, including dozens in critical condition
(With agency inputs)

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