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TEL AVIV, November 21 (Itar-Tass) — About a hundred Russian and CIS nationals have left the Gaza Strip and have safely arrived in Egypt. They’ve crossed the border at the Rafah checkpoint, Elena Alian, an employee of the Russian consular section, said on Wednesday.
She clarified that 58 Russians and 35 citizens of other CIS states had left the coastal Palestinian enclave. Five Britons, three Palestinians and three Egyptians have used the safe corridor together with them.
An International Red Cross car accompanied a convoy of two passenger buses. The Red Cross representatives had negotiated the evacuation action with the Israeli and Palestinian authorities.
The latest events in Gaza haven’t affected Israel’s tourist business.
About 10,000 Russian tourists are currently vacating in Israel.
“Between 8,000 and 10,000 Russians are currently staying in Israel. Approximately the same number is planning to enter the country soon,” Nadezhda Yefremova, the chief of the legal department of the Association of Tour Operators of Russia (ATOR), told a news conference on Wednesday.
She added that about 100,000 tourists from various countries were having a vacation in Israel at the moment.
Yefremova emphasized that none of the tourist routes had been cancelled for Russian tourists in Israel, and that all the tourists were sticking to their programs.
“There hasn’t been a single incident when a tourist program was disrupted. All the scheduled programs are taking place as planned. Not a single tour operator has reported cases when tourists staying in Israel wished to return home ahead of time,” Yefremova went on to say.
In turn, Neta Briskin-Peleg, a representative of the Israeli Ministry of Tourism in Russia and CIS, warned tourists that they should be cautious within a range of 40 kilometers from Gaza. “Naturally, these are not popular tourist destinations. The situation in Eilat, Jerusalem, the Dead Sea and other places of interest is calm and safe,” she said.
Neta Briskin-Peleg added that no regular flights to Israel had been cancelled. Only 18 passengers out of 380 registered for regular flights didn’t show up at the airport this week. However, some tourists have cancelled their New Year trips to Israel. Tourist agents had to introduce additional flights to Eilat for the New Year holiday before the situation in the Middle East aggravated.
Neta Briskin-Peleg assured Russian tour operators that the Israeli side would consider all their requests and proposals.
“Today, we have 2-million-euror contracts with the tour operators. We are going to increase support after the military operation is over,” she explained.
“The anti-terror operation is under way in areas where there are no tourists. All this has little to do with tourists. Tourist guides are working and all places of interest are open to visitors,” Alex Kagalski, the press service chief of the Israeli embassy in Moscow, said.