Indian mission in Israel extends 'personal touch' amid COVID-19 movement restrictions

PTI New Delhi Aug 04, 2020, 02.27 PM(IST)

India-Israel Photograph:( AFP )

Story highlights

The Indian embassy staff have been travelling to various parts of the country once a week so that Indians and Israelis of Indian-origin looking for consular support do not face problems

The Indian embassy in Israel has launched a unique initiative to reach out to the Indian communities in the country to provide essential consular services amid the restrictions on movement and gatherings due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Indian embassy staff have been travelling to various parts of the country once a week so that Indians and Israelis of Indian-origin looking for consular support do not face problems with urgently required documents.

The service seems to have created an excitement in the Indian community with many of them appreciating the "personal touch" which they feel is creating a "strong bond".

"The idea of regular consular camps grew out of our internal exercise to set quarterly goals for ourselves in the wake of COVID-19. Given the uncertainties and restrictions flowing from COVID-19, we thought it'll be better to take the consular services closer to those who need them in these trying times, and all over Israel,' India's ambassador to Israel, Sanjeev Singla, said.

The staff of the Indian mission have so far been to Jerusalem and Beersheba during the past two weeks and have made the announcement that they will be in Haifa in the north and even in Israel's southernmost Red Sea coastal city of Eilat to meet and extend essential consular services to the Indian community.

The services are being extended while following the government guidelines in view of COVID-19 pandemic.

"I couldn't believe it when I got a call saying that I could come and collect my passport at a place really close to my student dormitory. I have been worried about it as I have to do all the formalities related to my stay here which was not possible without the passport in hand", Shashank Shekhar, a researcher at Beersheba's Ben-Gurion University, told PTI.
"We feel cared for," said 80-year-old Eliyahu Yosef, an Israeli of Indian-origin.

Pamela, who is an OCI and immigrated to Israel some 50 years ago, narrates something similar.

She needed help with her husband's application and had been waiting to travel to Tel Aviv for months.

The new initiative has brought much-needed relief to the Indian students, caregivers and also Israelis of Indian-origin.

"I can't explain to you the impact this gesture has had on the Indians in Israel. It is being talked about. The personal touch has resulted in further strengthening the strong bond we have with India", Naor Gudker, who has served as the CEO of Israel Cricket Association in the past, emphasised.

Indians in Eilat and Haifa welcomed the initiative with several of them waiting to meet embassy officials with their queries.

"The students have been particularly concerned about flights and I went to understand how urgent travel could be managed amid these restrictions," Nishant, a post-doctoral fellow at the Hebrew University, said.

The Indian mission's staff also went around the country providing masks and gloves to people in the community towards the beginning of the spread of the pandemic, assuring the community of all possible help.

"The pandemic will not stop us! Our new normal is to reach out & provide consular services as much as possible. Officials from the embassy of India provided consular services at Beersheba. We will soon be visiting Eilat ( August 7) and Haifa (August 14)" a tweet from the official handle of the embassy said.

A flight under the Vande Bharat Mission scheme evacuated 115 Indians on May 25 and the embassy and Air India have made announcements of another being planned later this month.

Israel has so far reported 74,430 cases of coronavirus and 546 deaths due to the disease, according to Israel Coronavirus Statistics Tracker. 

Indians in Eilat and Haifa welcomed the initiative with several of them waiting to meet embassy officials with their queries.

"The students have been particularly concerned about flights and I went to understand how urgent travel could be managed amid these restrictions," Nishant, a post-doctoral fellow at the Hebrew University, said.

The Indian mission's staff also went around the country providing masks and gloves to people in the community towards the beginning of the spread of the pandemic, assuring the community of all possible help.

"The pandemic will not stop us! Our new normal is to reach out & provide consular services as much as possible. Officials from the embassy of India provided consular services at Beersheba. We will soon be visiting Eilat ( August 7) and Haifa (August 14)" a tweet from the official handle of the embassy said.

A flight under the Vande Bharat Mission scheme evacuated 115 Indians on May 25 and the embassy and Air India have made announcements of another being planned later this month.
Israel has so far reported 74,430 cases of coronavirus and 546 deaths due to the disease, according to Israel Coronavirus Statistics Tracker.