Middle East

Philippines prepares Gaza, Israel evacuation plan

Philippines Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario speaks at a news conference in Beijing July 8, 2011. (Reuters/Jason Lee/Files)

MANILA: The Philippine government is preparing evacuation plans for Filipinos trapped in Gaza and in Israel and hopes a cease-fire will allow them to safely escape the bombing there.

Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario says there are about 120 Filipinos in Gaza and 41,000 in Israel, but only 11 from Gaza want to return home or be taken to Egypt.

The Israel embassy in Manila said in a statement Wednesday that the Hamas group is "holding hostage" some foreigners who want to leave. Del Rosario says he has not received any information that Hamas was using Filipinos as human shields in Gaza.

He says there were no plans for forced evacuations unlike during the Libyan uprising.

Millions of Filipinos work overseas, some in dangerous places like Gaza and Syria.





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