The government has condemned the Palestinian militant group Hamas’ attack on Israeli civilians on Saturday that killed hundreds of people, as it raised its travel warning for the Middle Eastern country.
President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) also conveyed her condolences to those injured and killed, as well as the concern of Taiwanese for Israelis’ safety, Presidential Office spokeswoman Olivia Lin (林聿禪) said
As a democratic nation, Taiwan vehemently opposes all forms of terroristic threats and condemns attacks on civilians, Lin said.
Taiwan is committed to collaborating with like-minded nations to resist any manifestations of threats that jeopardize democracy and freedom, she added.
In a news release late on Saturday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs “condemned the terrorist attacks against innocent Israeli civilians carried out by Hamas.”
Upon learning of the attacks, Department of West Asian and African Affairs Director-General Anthony Ho (賀忠義) immediately extended the nation’s condolences to Israeli Representative to Taiwan Maya Yaron, it said.
Lin yesterday said that Tsai has instructed the ministry and Taiwan’s representative office in Israel to gather information on the status of Taiwanese citizens in the area to ensure their safety.
Five tour groups in Israel, comprising 124 people from Taiwan, are safe, the Tourism Administration said.
One of the groups, with Lion Travel Service Co (雄獅旅行社), was to return to Taiwan yesterday, while a group with Yung Shin Travel Service Co (永信旅行社) is to cancel parts of its itinerary and return to Taiwan as soon as possible, the administration said in a statement, adding that the other three groups are in northern Israel and have not been affected.
It said that it is closely monitoring the situation and would offer assistance as needed.
Travel Quality Assurance Association (旅行業品保協會) spokesman Lee Chi-yuen (李奇嶽) said that local travel agencies are likely to suspend tour groups to Israel temporarily or alter their itineraries.
The Taipei-based association said that fewer than 10,000 Taiwanese travel to Israel in tour groups annually, making the country a relatively small tourist market due to the lack of direct flights and high travel costs.
The foreign ministry raised its travel alert for Israel to “yellow” following Saturday’s attack, advising people to reconsider any travel plans to Israel and pay special attention to their safety if travel is unavoidable.
Under the ministry’s four-color travel alert system, the lowest warning level is gray, followed by yellow, orange and red. The red alert advises people to refrain from traveling to the country or region in question.
In case of emergency when visiting Israel, Taiwanese are advised to call the nation’s representative office at 972-544-275-204 or the ministry’s Taipei headquarters’ toll free hotline at 886-800-085-095 to seek assistance, it added.
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