Israel-Hamas war and its impact on OFWs in Israel
Israel-Hamas war and its impact on OFWs in Israel
Israel-Hamas war and its impact on OFWs in Israel
by Karen Ow-Yong25 December 2023
Photo courtesy of Department of Migrant Workers

MANILA – Dubbed by the Philippine government as the country’s “new heroes” or “mga bagong bayani”, Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) immediately felt the impact of the war between Israel forces and Hamas when the latter made a sneak attack on Israel on October 7, 2023.

According to the latest data from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), four OFWs died due to the attacks.

Meanwhile, the fourth batch of Filipinos and their families have arrived in the country from Cairo, International Airport.

In a press statement, the DFA said that the 13 Filipinos brought the total repatriated to 102 as of November 7, 2023.


According to the DFA, the repatriation operation was in coordination with the Philippine Embassies in Amman, Jordan, and Tel Aviv, Israel. Consul Bojer Capati led the sendoff team at the Cairo International Airport.

UN calls for a ceasefire in Gaza

For now, the world is holding its breath to see what will happen next after the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution last December 12, calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, after 153 member states voted in favor of the ceasefire, including the Philippines; 10 voted against while 23 abstained.

The resolution demands that all parties immediately stop all military operations and cease all firing to make way for humanitarian aid.


“The resolution also demands that all parties comply with their obligations under international law, including international humanitarian law, notably with regard to the protection of civilians,” the United Nations said in a press statement.

The UN clarified that the said resolution does not condemn Hamas or make any specific reference to the extremist group.

OFWs face reality after repatriation

On the home front, Filipino migrant workers who have fled the war between Israel and Hamas said that they are thankful to be alive, but have to face the reality of losing their jobs and earnings.


In an interview with OFWs, Benar News said that most of the migrant workers who came back to the Philippines are facing the possibility of looking for a job in the country or will wait things out once the situation in Israel stabilizes.

Mylene Rivera, 47, a caregiver at Kibbutz Be’eri near the Gaza Strip, thought she might die on Oct. 7 — the day Hamas militants stormed the border town as part of a wave of surprise attacks on southern Israel.

She recalled waking up at 6 a.m. that day to the sound of a party nearby. Minutes later, she heard explosions outside the home where she was staying.

As an emergency siren went off, she roused her elderly employer from sleep. They spent the day without food or water, and could hear the rattle of gunfire as fighting raged outside, she recounted.


“I didn’t know if I was going to survive or not,” Rivera said during a press briefing upon her arrival in Manila on Oct. 18.

Rivera is one of 10 million Filipino migrant workers who worked abroad to support their families back home.

Benar News reported that Rivera and others who were evacuated from Israel are to receive Php 50,000 (USD 882.00), as well as skills training and separate financial assistance from the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), as confirmed by the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW).

Another OFW interviewed by Benar News is hotel worker Marivic Yape, 40, who was unsure if she should return to the Philippines even though Yemen’s Houthi militant group targeted Eilat, the city where she lives.


Yape is a first-time migrant worker and is earning to pay for the USD 3,500 (Php 198,550) she borrowed from relatives and lending companies to pay for her work permits, medical exam, and airfare to Israel.

Yape opted to stay and work in Israel though she admits that there are times she wanted to go home because of the war.

According to the DFA, an estimated 30,000 Filipinos are working in Israel as caregivers and the Philippine government has prepared contingency measures in case the said OFWs will request repatriation.

This is after the DFA has prepared almost USD 300,000 or PHP 16 million as repatriation funds for the four batches of Filipinos who decided to go home.


According to DFA Usec. Eduardo De Vega, the said fund was allocated for local transportation, accommodations in Cairo, flight tickets, and welfare assistance for 150 persons.

PBBM confirms all Filipinos in the Israel-Hamas war “accounted for”

After three months, President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. announced that all Filipinos affected in the Israel-Hamas war are now “all accounted for”, after the release of Filipino caregiver Noralyn Babadilla.

In a statement posted on his official X account, Marcos announced that Babadilla is now safe after being held hostage by the Hamas. This is after a fellow OFW, Gelienor “Jimmy” Pacheco, was released earlier and is now back home in the country.


A solution to the war between Israel and Hamas may be not possible in the near foreseeable future and as long as Filipinos are willing to stake their future overseas in exchange for a comfortable life for their families back home, their stories and struggles will remain a challenge to the Philippine government.

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