17 October 2023
Since Hamas attacked Israel on October 7, we at Migrante International have been calling for the immediate evacuation and repatriation of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in Gaza and even Israel. The Philippine government has placed the number of OFWs in Gaza at 131 and in Israel at 30,000.
The Philippine government immediately claimed that it has been engaging in talks with Egypt to open a border for the evacuation of OFWs from Gaza and for their eventual repatriation to the Philippines. On October 14, the Philippine government declared Alert Level 4, which means mandatory evacuation or repatriation for OFWs in Gaza. This was in anticipation of Israel’s attacks on the Palestinian territory.
Yesterday, October 16, morning, the Philippine government announced that the 131 OFWs in Gaza have been accounted for and 78 among them have been evacuated to southern Gaza’s Rafah border crossing with Egypt. By yesterday lunchtime in Israel, The Times of Israel reported that the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has stated that no ceasefire will be observed in Rafah crossing — and humanitarian aid will not be allowed to enter Gaza and foreigners will not be allowed to exit the Palestinian territory.
The Times of Israel also reported Israeli government ministers stating vehement opposition to sending humanitarian relief to Gaza. Energy Minister Isarel Katz said that the Israeli government’s commitment is to the “families of the murdered and kidnapped hostages” among Israelis, “not to the Hamas murderers and those who helped them.”
We agree with the many observers who have stated that Israeli’s attacks on Gaza constitute a collective punishment of the Palestinian people there. No less than the United Nations has voiced concern over the order to evacuate more than 1 million Palestinians from north to south Gaza in 24 hours. In response to the killing of 1,500 Israelis by Hamas, Israel has now reportedly killed 2,670 Palestinians and wounded 9,600 people through non-stop bombing and attacks.
Now, even OFWs and other migrants in Rafah and Gaza are placed in danger because of the Netanyahu government’s brutality towards the Palestinian people. We condemn the Israeli government for this inhumanity to the Palestinian people, who have long been victimized by its occupation; this humanity is also endangering the lives of OFWs and other migrants.
We are calling on the Bongbong Marcos government to heighten the protection for the 78 OFWs in Rafah crossing, the remaining 53 OFWs in Gaza, and even the 30,000 OFWs in the entire Israel. It should oppose, even condemn, the Israeli government’s refusal to implement a ceasefire so that OFWs and other migrants can exit Gaza and humanitarian aid can enter Gaza. Its declared support for Israel is a kneejerk reaction of a US puppet who ignores the long history of occupation and oppression suffered by the Palestinian people under Israel.
We demand the following: Let OFWs and migrants exit Gaza! Implement a ceasefire in Rafah crossing now! Safety and repatriation for OFWs in Israel! Stop the massacre and collective punishment of the Palestinian people! End Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands! ###