Israeli special forces evacuated several babies delivered by surrogate Nepalese mothers for Israeli parents – mostly gay couples – from Kathmandu following the deadly earthquake.
Three newborn babies and eight adults who have sought help from Nepalese women under the surrogacy procedure have already landed in Israel as part of the first group of evacuees.
More babies and couples are set to land shortly as Israel is stepping up the emergency measures. About 25 babies were recently born to surrogate mothers – some of them to Indian women – in Nepal when the massive quake hit the capital on Saturday, 25 April. Four of the babies were born prematurely.
One of the babies was said to be in a serious condition over an quake-related incident.
As the Kathmandu airport was shut down after the runway was damaged by the quake, Israelis were airlifted to India by helicopters, from where they are flown to their home country.
Following a request from the Israeli nationals, the justice ministry allowed four Nepalese surrogate mothers, who are currently carrying babies, to be evacuated from Nepal.
Israel President Reuven Rivlin said: "Our hearts and thoughts are with the nation of Nepal who are dealing with a terrible disaster, and with our loved ones who are in danger and distress. Israel will extend its hand with a will to aid in search and rescue of the many injured."
According to the Israeli foreign ministry, there are anywhere between 600 and 700 Israeli nationals in Nepal.
In recent years, Nepal has become one of the favourite destinations for couples who seek surrogate mothers, though critics have condemned the practice, saying it exploits the poor conditions of Nepalese and Indian women.