LONDON: The UK government ordered families of its diplomats in Israel to leave the country today in the wake of the Israel-Hamas war.
All diplomats would remain on active duty and keep offering consular services, the UK’s foreign office said in a statement.
“We are temporarily drawing down dependants of staff at our embassy in Tel Aviv and our consulate in Jerusalem as a precautionary measure,” it added.
Israel has vowed to annihilate the Hamas movement that rules the Gaza Strip in retribution for the deadliest attack on Jews since the Holocaust when hundreds of gunmen poured across the barrier fence and rampaged through Israeli towns on Saturday.
The UK has advised against all non-essential travel to Israel, and the foreign office said it had made its decision about the dependents of diplomats “in line” with that advice.
It declined today to say if it was organising repatriation flights for British nationals stuck in Israel who want to return home – as many other countries have done.
The UK’s foreign minister James Cleverly said earlier this week that he was working with the aviation industry to ensure commercial flights remained available to Britons looking to leave.
British Airways and Virgin Atlantic suspended flights between the UK and Israel yesterday, joining easyJet which had already halted the route, citing security concerns.
A British Airways plane was forced to turn around yesterday shortly before it was due to land in Tel Aviv. A spokesman for Israel’s airport authority said rockets were flying around Tel Aviv at the time of the diversion.
David Lammy, the opposition Labour Party’s foreign affairs spokesman, wrote to Cleverly yesterday saying he had received dozens of emails from constituents who were desperate to return from Israel and asked what steps the government was taking to help them.