Japan’s government has been criticised over its evacuation of citizens from Israel, after just eight people joined a flight that flew only as far as Dubai, with passengers charged a fee for boarding the plane.
Social media users and opposition politicians contrasted Sunday’s evacuation on a government-chartered commercial plane with an earlier flight on a South Korean military aircraft, whose passengers included dozens of Japanese nationals.
Passengers on the Japanese flight were charged ¥30,000 each (US$200), sparking anger on X, formerly known as Twitter, with some users accusing the government of being “stingy”. The South Korean government, by contrast, did not charge 51 Japanese nationals who boarded its flight – along with 163 South Koreans and six Singaporeans – from Israel to Seoul on Saturday.
Kenta Izumi, head of the main opposition Constitutional Democratic party, was similarly critical: “A Japanese government-chartered plane arrived in Dubai with eight Japanese on board for a fee,” he wrote on X. “The South Korean government transport plane carried not only South Koreans but also 51 Japanese, and arrived in South Korea, and for free.”
The Mainichi Shimbun said the tiny number of people aboard the Japanese flight had taken foreign ministry officials by surprise. “We hurried to avoid Japan being accused of responding too slowly, but with only eight people on board, it backfired on us,” the newspaper quoted a source close to the ministry as saying.
But another official defended the evacuation, saying the quickly changing situation in the Middle East meant the government wanted to fly its citizens out of Israel as soon as possible.
“The purpose of evacuating Japanese nationals was to get them out of the country, not to get them back to Japan,” the official told the Mainichi. “We are glad we did it, even with eight people.”
About 1,200 Japanese nationals were in Israel and Palestinian territories before the conflict broke out, and 1,000 were still there as of Saturday, the Kyodo news agency reported.
Protests in Libya over Gaza hospital blast
AFP: Several hundred people protested in Tripoli and other Libyan cities late Tuesday over the deadly blast at a Gaza hospital, according to AFP journalists.
In Tripoli, hundreds of demonstrators of all ages, brandishing Palestinian flags and some covering their faces with Palestinian keffiyehs, crisscrossed the streets of the city centre before converging on Martyrs’ Square.
They chanted slogans of support for the residents of Gaza and denounced the strike by the “Zionist enemy”.
“We give our blood and our souls for Gaza,” they chanted in Tripoli and similarly in Misrata, a city 200 kilometres (120 miles) west of the capital.
The Israeli army said the explosion was a rocket misfired by the Gaza-based militant group Islamic Jihad, an ally of Hamas.
Earlier, Abdulhamid Dbeibah, the prime minister of Libya’s Tripoli-based internationally recognised government, condemned the hospital blast, calling it a “despicable crime”.
“We denounce this crime which exceeded all limits, and I call on all countries of the world and the great powers in particular, to put an end to these crimes and to open corridors to bring humanitarian aid into the besieged sector,” he said on X, formerly Twitter, late Tuesday.
“Targeting medical and civilian facilities is a war crime. This aggression must stop,” he said.
UN chief to arrive in Egypt on Thursday
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will arrive in Cairo on Thursday, focused on reopening the Gaza border to allow in desperately needed aid for millions of Palestinians.
UN spokespersonStephane Dujarric, who made the announcement Tuesday, said the secretary-general will engage with Egyptian leaders including President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi and speak at an international conference on Saturday hosted by the president.
“This situation is becoming more than critical,” he said. “We are at a time of extreme tension, where we’re calling to move away from further escalation and any possible miscalculation.”
US raises travel alert for Lebanon to ‘do not travel’, authorises voluntary personnel departures
The US State Department has raised its travel alert for Lebanon to “do not travel,” citing the security situation related to rocket, missile, and artillery exchanges between Israel and Hezbollah, Reuters reports.
The State Department authorised the voluntary, temporary departure of family members of US government personnel and some non-emergency personnel from the US Embassy in Beirut because of the unpredictable security situation in Lebanon.
Protests took place outside the US embassy near Beirut on Tuesday night and into the early hours of Wednesday following the blast at al-Ahli al-Arabi hopsital in Gaza that killed hundreds of Palestinians.