A gaggle of British vacationers who had been stranded in Israel with their church have returned to the UK after a 24-hour journey which noticed them cross the border to Jordan in a bus.
Members of the Serbian Orthodox Church of the Holy Prince Lazar in Birmingham travelled to Israel on October 1 to go to holy websites.
However following the Hamas assaults final weekend they needed to shelter in a lodge in Jerusalemwhere they might hear bombs as they waited a number of days.
Father Nenad Popovic, 44, who organised the journey, mentioned most of their wider group of fifty had been capable of fly dwelling from the Israeli capital Tel Aviv however, after a flight was cancelled on Wednesday, 18 of them took a coach from Jerusalem to the border with Jordan.
They travelled east by means of the West Financial institution to the Jordanian border, and whereas the temper on the bus was “tense” the street was protected they usually witnessed no hostilities, Fr Popovic mentioned.
“All flights from Tel Aviv had been delayed or cancelled and it was not attainable to do something and one of the simplest ways was to take the bus,” Fr Popovic advised the PA information company.
“In a single second, chances are you’ll panic, however after that and also you see you’ll be able to’t change something, that’s it. Pray and all the things shall be OK.”
After crossing the border the group took taxis to Jordan’s Amman Civil Airport, the place they waited for 10 hours for a flight to Antalya, Turkey, earlier than flying to London Stansted on Thursday .
Fr Popovic, who’s now again in Birmingham, mentioned his group of 18 had been the final to journey and all 50 members of the broader church group at the moment are again within the UK.
“I’m so pleased that we’re (protected) and all collectively,” he mentioned.
“I’m dwelling in Birmingham and we’re all at dwelling for the time being, all the things is ok, (everybody) is protected at dwelling, rested, and I’m in contact with them on WhatsApp.”
The group, which included about 30 Britons and three youngsters, had been in a lodge in Bethlehem when Hamas attacked the area on Saturday.
“We had been witnessing the rockets, the firing, the individuals operating round and shouting, so we weren’t protected any extra so we moved to Jerusalem,” Fr Popovic mentioned.
Fr Popovic, initially from Serbia and who has lived within the UK for 45 years, mentioned whereas that they had been staying in Jerusalem the group may hear automobile horns, detonations and “generally bombs”.
“It’s not my first conflict, I had issues in Serbia in 1999, however for lots of the group it was their first time to be within the conflict, to listen to the horns and sirens, to listen to the bombs,” he mentioned.
“It’s only a unhealthy expertise.
“I used to be locked with my buddies over there in any individual else’s conflict.”
Fr Popovic mentioned he was “irritated” the church group didn’t obtain help to return dwelling from the UK or Serbian governments.
“The frustration was from each of my governments, one in Belgrade and one in London, that no person did something,” he mentioned.
Natasa Jovanovic-Gap, whose father Jovan Jovanovic, 71, was among the many group, mentioned she had minimal contact with him throughout his journey to the border as a result of connection points.
The mother-of-two from Birmingham advised PA: “I used to be actually involved in regards to the journey, actually, actually pressured, simply due to listening to horror tales about different individuals who have carried out that journey, it’s horrific.
“We’ve had minimal dialog due to the wifi.
“(Wednesday) evening, I can’t clarify – it was like I used to be hyperventilating, I couldn’t breathe, the panic was horrific.
“It’s not fake, that is actual life.”
A Overseas, Commonwealth and Improvement Workplace (FCDO) spokesman mentioned: “We don’t touch upon particular person consular instances.
“Nonetheless, we will verify we’re in touch with, and helping, the households of a number of people in Israel and the OPTs.”