Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz on Saturday announced the creation of a “national emergency plan” to bring home Israelis stranded abroad due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ministry said in a press release that “Israeli diplomatic missions around the world will map concentrations of Israelis wishing to return home. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) Situation Room will monitor the situation around the clock and will establish a center to monitor requests of Israelis stranded abroad.”

According to the statement, the ministry will be arranging free commercial flights to Israel on Israeli airlines El Al, Arkia and Israir, calling upon them to send planes to the destinations from which Israelis are unable to find flights home on their own.

Katz is coordinating with senior government officials in various countries to obtain the required permissions for the flights, according to the statement, similar to the coordination with the Peruvian government on Tuesday to charter a flight for Israelis stranded in that South American country after it shut its borders in an effort to contain the outbreak.

The emergency operations are being conducted under “the principle of mutual responsibility,” in the context of “closures taking place around the world at a growing pace and the number of Israelis abroad,” said Katz, adding that the operation will “continue to lead us until all Israelis return home.”

He urged all Israelis to return home as soon as possible, as “there are still commercial flights available from most countries, and it is possible to return.”

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