Dozens of Israelis spending what was a rather uneventful summer vacation in the Caucasus found themselves in the middle of a war zone in the past few days, and are now desperate to get back to Israel.
MK Leon Litinsky (Labor) left for the Georgian capital of Tbilisi on Monday morning, to try and assist Jews wishing to flee the battles. The Jewish community in Georgia numbers some 12,000 people – most of whom reside in Tbilisi, which has been under heavy Russian fire since Sunday.
"I felt I had to come here and try to help the Jewish community during this time," he told Ynet over the phone. "There were bombs landing near the hotel I'm staying in. we have refugees from all areas trying to find where to stay. The hotel manager has been able to turn a nearby school into temporary housing for them."
Litinsky shares his hotel with many Israeli who traveled to Tbilisi – some for business, some for pleasure – and who asked him to try to use his influence in order to help them get home.
"The people here are nervous because they can't get out of Georgia. The overall felling is that battles may erupt in Tbilisi's streets at any moment. You can here the Russian jest flying overhear. It is very unnerving," he said.
Litinsky plans to try and reach the city of Gori, which is adjacent to the South Ossetian border, in order to help the local Jewish community. "We'll be traveling in a diplomatic vehicle, hoping that will protect us from any fire," he added.
Meir Zarovsky, who is in Tbilisi as part of an organized tour of the Caucasus, told Ynet about the situation in the city: "We heard the bombing over night and we are at out wits' end. There is no one to give us updates about what's going on. We demand to be extracted from this place. It feels like we're an hour away from disaster. (The state) has to get us out of here."
Arkia Airlines, contracted by the Foreign Ministry to fly Israelis stranded in Georgia back to Israel, issued a statement Monday, saying that "due to the recent bombing of the civilian airport in Georgia, we cannot fly in at this time.
"Arkia is looking into a possible cooperation with other airlines which have been granted entry into Georgia in order to fly out any Israelis staying in the country. The company also has a flight scheduled to fly out of Tbilisi this Friday."