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DFA raises Alert Level 4 over Gaza Strip, mandatory repatriation for Filipinos

Israeli rocket is fired into the northern Gaza Strip
An Israeli rocket is fired into the northern Gaza Strip July 17, 2014. REUTERS/Amir Cohen

Due to the worsening security condition in Gaza Strip in Israel, the Department of Foreign Affairs has raised an Alert Level 4 and imposing “mandatory repatriation” of Filipinos, Malacañang said on Sunday.

Communications Secretary Sonny Coloma said the alert level was raised to four due to the continued clashes between Israel and Hamas.

Philippine embassies in Cairo, Tel Aviv and Aman are ready to evacuate and repatriate Filipinos and will coordinate with authorities in Israel, Egypt, Jordan and United Nations.

There are 36,400 Filipinos in Israel and 109 of them are in Gaza, the DFA said.

The DFA also raised Alert Level 2 or “restriction phase” over Israel 15 kilometers from the border of Gaza, and Alert Level 1 or “precautionary phase” over southern and central Israel and the West Bank where 113 Filipinos live.

PH deployment ban

The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) will also impose a  resolution banning deployment of Filipino workers to Israel and will extend legal assistance if necessary, Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said yesterday.

Baldoz also said the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has activated its repatriation and reintegration team to help returning workers from Israel.

“The team will provide welfare and employment facilitation assistance to those Filipino workers who will avail of the repatriation program,” she added. “The repatriation and reintegration team will meet today and link with our Philippine Overseas Labor Office in Israel.”

The DOLE will provide training and other necessary support for workers who will opt for other alternative source of livelihood. The DOLE’s Bureau of Local Employment will assist those who will seek local employment.

Israeli troops began a ground offensive in parts of Gaza late Thursday, starting a new phase in the operation, which Israel said was aimed at destroying tunnels used by Islamist movement Hamas.

The death toll in Israel’s campaign in Gaza has already reached 343 as Israeli warplanes intensified their bombardment and troops pressed a ground assault on the 12th day of confrontation with Hamas, reports said.

“The Philippines joins the United Nations in calling for the cessation of hostilities to prevent further loss of innocent lives,” Coloma said in Filipino.

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