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Evacuations from Israel underway as military shuttles Canadians to Greece

Canadian military flights evacuating citizens, permanent residents and their families from Israel began Thursday, says Defence Minister Bill Blair.

Flights will bring Canadians to Greece, where commercial aircraft can complete trip to Canada

Travellers look at electronic departure signs at an airport.

Canadian military flights evacuating citizens, permanent residents and their families from Israel began Thursday, says Defence Minister Bill Blair.

The Canadian government has moved to implement an evacuation plan to retrieve Canadians stranded in Israel following devastating attacks by Hamas over the weekend and amid escalating violence in the region as Israel strikes the Gaza strip.

Planes will take passengers to Athens, federal ministers said earlier in the week; commercial flights will complete the return trip. Over 4,200 Canadians in Israel have registered with Global Affairs Canada; not all of them are expected to evacuate.

A Canadian military plane was nearing Athens at approximately 11 a.m. ET on Thursday, according to the flight tracking service Flightradar.

Blair said Thursday the second military flight will be boarding soon. A second Canadian Armed Forces plane was on approach to Tel Aviv at around noon ET, Flightradar showed.

We’re working tirelessly to assist Canadians in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza. <br><br>I can confirm that the first <a href="https://twitter.com/CanadianForces?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@CanadianForces</a> evacuation flight has departed from Tel Aviv with approximately 130 passengers on board. <br><br>We will continue to be there for Canadians who need help.

&mdash;@BillBlair

Canada's Ambassador to Israel Lisa Stadelbauer spoke with CBC News at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion Airport. She said she anticipates the second flight will leave at roughly 9 p.m. local time.

She said around 116 Canadians were on board the first flight and she expects a similar number to be on the second.

"We'll continue with the flights over the coming days, depending on demand. Right now, we have about one thousand people on our list who are looking for assistance," Stadelbauer said.

"The thing that is most stressful is the uncertainty. My greatest hope is that a week from now, people will think this was totally unnecessary and they shouldn't have left," she said.

Airlines based in countries around the world have cut flights to and from Israel due to the violence in the region.

"The risk is still live and present," Stadelbauer said.

WATCH | Flights evacuating Canadians from Israel begin:

Evacuation flights underway for Canadians in Israel

3 hours ago

Duration 2:26

Featured VideoFlights for Canadians looking to leave Israel will continue in the coming days 'depending on demand,' said Lisa Stadelbauer, Canada's ambassador to Israel.

Families have identified three Canadians killed in Israel. Global Affairs Canada says it is aware of reports that three are still missing.

Israel says more than 1,200 people have been killed in Israel itself, while Gaza's health authority says at least 1,100 people have died there since Saturday.

Hundreds of Canadians in Gaza and the West Bank have also registered with Global Affairs Canada. Mohammed Fayad, a Palestinian refugee in Canada whose children are still in Gaza, told CBC's Power & Politics he's hoping for help from the federal government to bring his children to safety.

Rob Oliphant, parliamentary secretary to Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly, told host David Cochrane that Canada does not have access to Gaza, though the government remains in talks to establish humanitarian aid corridors into the area.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Christian Paas-Lang covers federal politics for CBC News in Ottawa as an associate producer with The House and a digital writer with CBC Politics. You can reach him at christian.paas-lang@cbc.ca.

    With files from Chris Brown

    *****
    Credit belongs to : www.cbc.ca

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