As war rages, Fijian charter flight becomes repatriation mission

As war rages, Fijian charter flight becomes repatriation mission

A chartered flight arranged to bring a group of Evangelical Christians from Fiji to Israel and back to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles was repurposed as a repatriation flight to help those stranded after Hamas brutally attacked Israel over the weekend, beginning the Swords of Iron War.

“It was a divinely ordained idea to bring this charter plane,” said Pastor Manasa Kolivuso, who helped lead the delegation of Fijians alongside the country’s deputy prime minister, Viliame R. Gavoka.

“If we had come in commercial flights, imagine the mess we would be in now.

“The plane has become a repatriation flight for those stranded and needing flights out of Israel. We are glad to be able to give a helping hand.”

Other airlines canceled flights

Many airlines have canceled flights due to fears of rocket attacks and war. The original Fiji flight arrived just before the Sukkot holiday. Most travelers were delegates of the International Christian Embassy participating in Jerusalem’s Feast of Tabernacles celebration, which brought some 3,000 Evangelical Christians to Israel to participate in the Sukkot holiday and the March of the Nations. There were also Fijian government representatives who held high-level meetings in preparation for the country’s opening of an embassy in Jerusalem.

Jerusalem March – Fiji delegation ; October 13th, 2022. (credit: COURTESY ICEJ)

The more than 16,000-kilometer-long flight was run by Fiji Airways, which made the airline’s first-ever landing in Israel. The return flight was supposed take place on Wednesday, Kolivuso explained. “But given the situation, the Fiji government wanted us back in the country at this time.”

In addition, other Fijians, such as those studying in university programs who did not come with the mission could also use the flight home.

But while they will go back home, Fine Ditoka, head of Diplomacy, Strategic Affairs and Protocol for ICEJ, told The Jerusalem Post that the recent tragedies in Israel “bring us Christians more together, to stand for Israel and pray for Israel through this crisis.”

Will the war deter Fiji from moving its embassy to Jerusalem?

On the contrary, said Kolivuso, “it will only reinforce our longstanding relationship with Israel and the fact that we want to establish an embassy in its capital.”

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