SDF plane carrying Japanese, South Koreans from Israel arrives in Tokyo

    A Self-Defense Forces plane carrying Japanese, South Korean and other evacuees from Israel arrived in Tokyo on Saturday, as war rages between the Middle East nation and the Palestinian militant group Hamas.

    The KC-767 refueling and transport aircraft landed at Haneda airport at around 3:15 a.m., a day after transporting 60 Japanese, 18 South Koreans and five foreign family members to Jordan from the Israeli city of Tel Aviv.

    A woman who arrived with five children said she was very worried about her Israeli husband who remains in the country.

    Another woman returned home with her husband and 5-year-old son after living in Israel for around 20 years.

    “We don’t even have a mobile phone and don’t know what to do next,” she said. “We would like to go back (to Israel) once the situation calms down. We hope both Israel and Palestine will be a place where children can live in peace.”

    Japan has dispatched two other SDF planes in case more Japanese citizens need to be airlifted from the Middle East. One is currently on standby in Jordan and the other is at the SDF’s operating base in Djibouti in East Africa.

    Hamas launched a surprise assault on Israel on Oct. 7, triggering Israeli retaliation in the Gaza Strip, which is controlled by the militant group.

    Last weekend, 51 Japanese nationals were evacuated from Israel on a South Korean military transport plane to an air base outside Seoul, and eight more left Tel Aviv for Dubai in the United Arab Emirates on a Japan-chartered flight.

    By Nadeem Faisal Baiga