Dozens of Israelis stranded in Georgia, Russian blitz continues

Group in Tbilisi hotel: All roads to North are blocked, we're stuck here; Arkia Airlines waiting for instructions from Foreign Ministry.

Dozens of Israelis stranded in Georgia are requesting to return to Israel immediately but are unable to find a flight home, Army Radio reported on Monday. Labor MK Leon Litinetsky, who arrived in Tbilisi, said there was a group of Israelis in one of the city's hotels that wanted to return home but had yet to be answered by Israel's Arkia Airlines. "They came to Georgia before this crisis erupted. They are worried and want to leave," he said. In response, Arkia said it was waiting for instructions from the Foreign Ministry regarding its travel warning. "As soon as such a warning is issued, we will send a plane to pick up the passengers who are currently in Tbilisi," the airline said. One of the stranded Israelis, Moshe Dahan, told Israel Radio that refugees who had fled the conflict zone had tried to get into his hotel. Another Israeli, Meir Zorovsky, insisted that although the fighting was yet to reach the capital, the atmosphere in the group was very bad. "All roads to the North are blocked, we are stuck here," he told Walla News. Zorovsky's wife Orly said that the anxiety kept her up all night. "The sirens just don't stop. Every few minutes, someone from the group gets a worried phone call from home. We just want to go back to Israel and ease the tension felt by our loved ones," she said. According to the group's guide, as long as the Foreign Ministry only issued a general warning and not an immediate call to Israeli citizens to leave the region, there was no reason to return. Swarms of Russian jets launched new raids on Georgian territory Monday while Russian officials accused Georgia of violating its pledge to observe a cease-fire around the breakaway province of South Ossetia. Georgia said a Russian general in Abkhazia, the other breakaway province, issued an ultimatum on Monday to Georgian forces nearby to disarm or face Russian troops moving into Georgian-controlled territory. That would be a major escalation in the Russian-Georgian conflict. With most Georgian forces concentrated near South Ossetia, it could be hard for Georgia to repel the Abkhazian offensive.