December 4, 2023

“I’m just happy and relieved that we’re there.”

Karen hugs her sister and newborn nephew. Tears flowing. “I’m very happy and relieved that we’re out of there now.” The 30-year-old from Upper Austria studies in Israel, in Haifa, and has now only packed the most important things and fled. “What is happening in Israel is indescribable. The sirens have gone off and I no longer feel safe anywhere.”

Emotions aren’t just great for Karen. At Vienna Airport on Thursday, people ran towards each other, hugged each other and did not let go of each other for a long time. The Austrian Airlines evacuation plane from Tel Aviv, organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, landed at 3:14 p.m. 176 people were brought to Austria on an Airbus A320 called Osterol. In addition to the 139 Austrians, their family members and other citizens from Israel, Poland, Germany, the USA, France, Croatia, Sweden, Hungary and the United Kingdom also found space.

“The Second Holocaust in Israel”

The passengers were relieved to have safe ground under their feet again after the attack launched by Hamas terrorists on Israel. “You can breathe deeply now,” says Nellie, 35. “It was a little difficult. In fact, it was very difficult.” The mother, married in Ashkelon, flew her two children (2 and 9 years old) to relatives who live in Austria. The mother says: “My husband is in the army. This is the second Holocaust in Israel.”

22-year-old Marilyn from Vienna fell into her mother’s arms. She was planning a vacation in Israel with her father and sister when the country was attacked by Hamas terrorists. “I was scared. You could hear the bombs.” She’s “so happy” to be here again.

Michael (27) organized his own departure and arrived shortly before the AUA plane arrived. The student from Lower Austria had been in Tel Aviv for a semester abroad since October and managed to escape via Cyprus. His parents were waiting impatiently for him at the airport. “We feel very relieved, but the resentment still persists,” the father says. “The Austrian government should have helped us much earlier.”

At 5:20 p.m., a second AUA plane landed carrying evacuees from Israel who had already been brought from Tel Aviv to Cyprus on Wednesday. There were 70 people on board the plane that took off from Larnaca. The Foreign Ministry has chartered another plane with a capacity of 176 people for Friday and will take off from Tel Aviv to Vienna around midday.