First Flight Arrives from Georgia

Ad Feedback - TEL AVIV, Israel - The first El Al flight carrying Georgian Jews making aliyah (immigrating to Israel) and Israelis, who cut short business trips and vacations after the Russian military offensive, arrived safely at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion International airport Tuesday evening.

Of the 170 passengers on board, 30 are new immigrants.

Two El Al airliners and one Georgian Airways plane were used to transport a total of 600 Israelis and Georgians who decided to immigrate to the Jewish homeland.

Last night, Yossi Levy, spokesman for Israel's Foreign Ministry, said the last of the three flights would arrive at 1:00 a.m. Wednesday morning.

"The Israeli government is willing to do everything to get its citizens home," Levi said. "By tomorrow morning, everyone will be out."

The first Israeli arrivals shared the fright they'd experienced as Russian warplanes bombed Georgia.

"It was terrifying. We were in a foreign war in a foreign country," said Yardena Milo. "We heard shells going off…and explosions, and then we heard that the Russians had bombed the airport's radar, meaning that we could not get out," she said.

"They were talking about getting us out over land through Armenia, but then we heard the Turkish border had been sealed off," she said.

"There's nothing like being home," she said.

Foreign Ministry, El Al and Airports Authority staff greeted the weary travelers, handing a rose to each one as they deplaned.

Earlier, Foreign Ministry Deputy Director General Pinchas Avivi told the press that Israel sent two-and-a-half tons of medical supplies to Georgia, including seven EKG machines, respirators and antibiotics.

"All who wanted to receive help contacted us. Many Israelis have been in Georgia for a long time and their passports were out of date. We got the passports ready overnight so they could land this evening," Avivi said.

Source: The Jerusalem Post

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