19 more Pinoys come home from Lebanon

19 more Pinoys come home from Lebanon

NINETEEN overseas Filipino workers (OFW) based in Lebanon arrived in the Philippines on Sunday morning, according to the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW), amid hostilities between Israeli forces and Hezbollah, an Islamist militant group allied with Hamas.

In a statement, the agency said this brought the total number of repatriated OFWs from Lebanon to 61.

“DMW office-in charge Hans Leo J. Cacdac personally assisted the OFWs and assured them of all the necessary assistance and other forms of support from the government,” it said.

The Philippines earlier placed Lebanon under Alert Level 3 amid the hostilities, calling on Filipinos to come home.

There are about 17,500 Filipinos in Lebanon, most of whom are domestic workers.

In the past month, Hezbollah and Israeli military forces have been exchanging fire at the Lebanon-Israel border, in the worst escalation of violence in the area since a 2006 war between Israel and the Islamist group.

The Israeli Defense Forces on Saturday said it had carried out aerial and artillery attacks against a Hezbollah site, after the Islamist group claimed responsibility for several attacks on northern Israel that same day.

Israel launched a barrage of airstrikes in Gaza after Hamas militants backed by waves of rockets stormed from the blockaded Gaza Strip into nearby Israeli towns on Oct. 7, killing about 1,200 Israelis.

Israel has deployed tens of thousands of its troops for a ground assault on the Palestinian enclave and has enforced a blockade.

The Hamas-run Gaza government has said more than 14,000 people have died since the start of the war. At least four Filipinos died.

The Yemen-backed Houthis group has also launched waves of missile and drone strikes against Israel.

A group of 17 Filipino crew members of an Israeli-linked cargo ship in the Red Sea were taken hostage by Houthi rebels on Nov. 19. The Houthis said the hijacking was done in response to “heinous acts” being committed by Israel in Gaza.

Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Ma. Teresita C. Daza said last week the hostages were in good condition and would eventually be released.

As a truce was agreed upon by Hamas and Israel on Nov. 24, Hamas released 24 hostages including a Filipino caregiver. Israel also agreed to release 150 hostages.

The truce was extended for two days on Nov. 28 and for another day on Nov. 30.

Last week, Hamas freed another Filipina caregiver who was held captive for 53 days.

At least 111 Filipinos have been evacuated from Gaza, with 109 of them already back in the Philippines, Ms. Daza told reporters in a WhatsApp message last week.

The Philippines earlier placed Gaza under Alert Level 4 or forced repatriation. — John Victor D. Ordoñez