In the midst of deadly hostilities between Hamas and Israel, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a voluntary evacuation of Russian and ex-Soviet republic nationals from the Gaza Strip on Thursday.
Putin's decision, which was published on the government's official web 10 days ago, comes after Hamas militants launched over 4,000 rockets at Israel and Israeli air strikes killed 230 Palestinians, including 65 children. According to Israeli authorities, 12 persons were killed by Hamas rockets, the majority of which were intercepted by Iron Dome air defenses.
The edict directs that “provisions be made for the evacuation of Russian Federation and Commonwealth of Independent States [CIS] nationals who have indicated such a wish.
Putin's proclamation directs Russia's SVR espionage agency, the Ministry of Emergency Situations, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to establish exact evacuation timetables.
The Russian cabinet of ministers has also been instructed to put in place the necessary measures to carry out the voluntary evacuations.
According to the UN, 75,000 inhabitants have been forced to flee their homes in Gaza, a congested enclave of 2 million people that has been under Israeli embargo for 14 years.
Russia’s ambassador in Israel said in an interview published Thursday that Russian nationals have appealed to its diplomatic mission in the Palestinian National Authority for an evacuation from the conflict zone.
The state-run RIA Novosti news agency reported later Thursday that around 400 Russian and CIS citizens are listed among the Gaza evacuees.
Putin has joined world leaders in calling for a ceasefire between Israel and Palestinians.