Rescue mission for Israelis in Peru completed successfully

Dozens of Israelis got stuck in the country after political unrest crippled the transportation systems - now they are on the way home.

 Demonstrators blockades a railway track following weeks of protests sparked by the ousting and arrest of former President Pedro, in Chilca, Peru December 16, 2022. (photo credit: ALEJANDRA OROSCO/REUTERS)
Demonstrators blockades a railway track following weeks of protests sparked by the ousting and arrest of former President Pedro, in Chilca, Peru December 16, 2022.
(photo credit: ALEJANDRA OROSCO/REUTERS)

The mission to rescue Israelis stuck in Peru has been successfully completed, Passportcard Insurance and Magnus’s search-and-rescue team announced on Sunday morning.

The group of Israeli travelers that was stuck in Machu Picchu was successfully delivered to Cusco at the completion of a 15-hour-long mission.

The two Israeli companies began their rescue mission to extract the group of dozens of Israelis who got stuck in the ancient city of Machu Picchu, Ynet reported on Saturday.

"The local tour operator simply renounced responsibility for us, so I and my friends were suddenly on our own."

Shoham Esther Benjamin

On Saturday, the group walked some 10 km. in the first phase of a planned 73-km. (45-mile) rescue trip, while being accompanied by local Magnus employees and guides.

 Soldiers take their weapons after they arrived as reinforcements amid violent protests following the ousting and arrest of former President Pedro Castillo, in Ayacucho, Peru December 15, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/Miguel Gutierrez Chero) Soldiers take their weapons after they arrived as reinforcements amid violent protests following the ousting and arrest of former President Pedro Castillo, in Ayacucho, Peru December 15, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/Miguel Gutierrez Chero)

One of the Israelis, 22-year-old Shoham Esther Benjamin, told Ynet, “The local tour operator simply renounced responsibility for us, so I and my friends were suddenly on our own.”

She added, “The locals started to demand more money from us because there is a feeling that everything is running out.”

Another Israeli, Sara Dahan, described the rescue trip, saying, “We started the very uncomfortable three-hour trip at 7 a.m., over slippery train tracks full of holes. But the only way to get to the next town is over these unused train tracks.”

Travel warning to Peru

The Foreign Ministry confirmed early Sunday morning that there were no more Israelis stuck in Peru. The ministry reiterated its current travel warning for Peru on Saturday after the country’s new government declared a 30-day state of emergency on Wednesday, granting police special powers and limiting citizens’ rights.

The travel warning recommends that Israelis in the country stay away from demonstrations and public gatherings, and closely follow local media and the Foreign Ministry’s warnings.

The statement further specified the regions of Cusco and Machu Picchu as especially dangerous because roads and highways there have been blocked by demonstrators, while railways and the International Airport have ceased to function.

What is going on in Peru?

Protests since the arrest of former president Pedro Castillo, who is in pre-trial detention while facing charges of rebellion and conspiracy, have crippled Peru’s transportation system, shuttering airports and blocking highways.

Castillo reportedly tried to dissolve the Peruvian Congress to prevent a vote on his impeachment. As a result, the Peruvian leader was accused of a coup d’état and arrested. His arrest led to hundreds of thousands of his supporters taking to the streets to protest his imprisonment.

Protesters blocked key roads and forced the closure of five airports in Peru amid violent protests that flared up again on Friday and left at least 16 dead, following Castillo’s ousting and arrest.

Peruvian President Dina Boluarte, who has said she is leading a transitional government, urged the country’s Congress on Saturday to pass a proposal to bring forward general elections. 

Reuters contributed to this report.