Germany prepares to evacuate thousands of citizens from Israel

Imogen Goodman
Imogen Goodman - [email protected]
Germany prepares to evacuate thousands of citizens from Israel
An airport sign announcing arrivals from Tel Aviv. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sebastian Gollnow

Preparations are underway for a series of Lufthansa flights that help will evacuate thousands of German citizens from the war-struck country.


Since terrorists from the militant Hamas group launched its brutal and unexpected attack on Israel on Saturday, German citizens have been clamouring to leave the war-struck country.

On Tuesday afternoon, Germany's Foreign Ministry confirmed that four additional flights between Germany and Israel would be laid on by Lufthansa in order to evacuate the thousands of citizens who had called for assistance.

Germany had been working with the airline to organise "several special flights" on Thursday and Friday to repatriate German citizens, the ministry said.

According to reports in AFP, around 4,500 German citizens in Israel have so far registered on the 'Elefand' crisis precaution list to return to Germany. 

Those who have registered will be informed on Wednesday of the process for booking tickets for the special flights with Lufthansa, the ministry said.

German nationals who are not yet registered and who are willing to leave the country should enter their names in the list immediately, it added. The final details of the flights are still being finalised.

The Elefand system provides Germans abroad with official updates during acute crisis situations and keeps them informed of developments such as planned evacuations.


Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock had previously asked Germans waiting to leave Israel for patience in light of the delays in organising evacuations.

"We have set up evacuation flights with other airlines," the Greens politician explained. "We arranged flight connections through the crisis hotline - those who are at the airport could contact us. People then had to change flights on some routes.

"I understand that this is a terrible situation, but when you have 100,000 calls at the same time, you have to prioritise."

READ ALSO: Germany suspends aid for Palestinians after Hamas attack

The news of the extra flights comes after days of waiting and uncertainty for German citizens in Israel and criticism of the Foreign Ministry's handling of the situation. 

Writing on Twitter in response to a post by the German ambassador to Israel Steffen Seibert, German citizen Hans Raffauf, who is stuck in northern Israel, slammed the provision of flights as "really not enough". 

"I'll say this again more clearly: that's really not enough," Raffauf wrote. "In fact, you can't actually leave the country at the moment unless you're lucky enough to get one of the last places.

"The airport feels like it's in a movie and the federal government says, make sure you figure it out yourself."

Baerbock was grilled on Tuesday evening on by ZDF presenter Christian Sievers on why no military aircraft had been used for evacuations so far.

"Poland, Italy, Spain, Austria use military aircraft to fly out their compatriots - why doesn't Germany do the same?" Sievers asked.

According to the Foreign Minister, the German government's top priority was initially to evacuate 17 youth groups who were in Israel on Saturday during the attack.

"Given the situation that we have to get many, many more people out, we can't send a military plane, so we first took care of children and young people who were there without parents," Baerbock told ZDF.

On Wednesday, she explained in the Bundestag that all the students had managed to make it out of Israel safety. 

Death toll mounts

On Saturday, hundreds of Hamas fighters broke through the Gazan border in a surprise terrorist attack that resulted in more than 1,200 civilian deaths and around 150 people - including a few dual German-Israeli citizens - being taken hostage in Gaza. Aerial bombardments from Gaza have continued this week. 

Meanwhile, Gaza has also come under heavy fire from Israel, with more than 1,050 deaths and hundreds of thousands of civilians internally displaced. The Israeli government has cut off food, water and fuel to the region.


On Wednesday, Germany called on Qatar for support in securing the release of hostages trapped in the Gaza strip.

READ ALSO: Germany opens probe into suspected kidnap and murder of its citizens by Hamas

The Gulf state was a "financier of Hamas", Germany's Economy Minister and Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck told journalists.

As such, Qatar would also have contacts that "Germany and Israel do not have", Habeck said.

"It would be important for Qatar to exert its influence on Hamas so that this does not happen again or can be atoned for," he said.


Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

See Also