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Nepali students bear brunt of Hamas attack on Israel

10 were killed and four were left injured while a search was underway for one missing student

One of the last pictures of a group of Nepali students inside a bunker before Hamas militants attacked it on Oct. 7 killing 10 and injuring four while two were unharmed and search was underway for one missing.

One of the last pictures of a group of Nepali students inside a bunker before Hamas militants attacked it on Oct. 7 killing 10 and injuring four while two were unharmed and search was underway for one missing. (Photo courtesy Hem Raj Joshi)

Published: October 11, 2023 10:53 AM GMT

Updated: October 11, 2023 11:31 AM GMT

The Nepal government has promised attempts to repatriate the bodies of 10 students killed in the war in Israel amid appeals to confirm the whereabouts of a student still missing.

Bipin Joshi, 23, a local from Bhimdutta municipality in the southern plains of Nepal, was at the Kibbutz Alumim, one of the flashpoints of the Hamas surprise assault on Oct. 7.

Kibbutz Alumim, located close to the Gaza Strip, was hosting 17 Nepali students at the time of the attack.

Media reports, quoting the Himalayan Republic's embassy in Tel Aviv, said 10 were killed while four were injured and being treated in hospital. Two were unharmed while a search was underway for one person. 

Joshi who was pursuing an undergraduate course in agriculture was doing an internship at an agriculture firm in Kibbutz Alumim under an 11-month ‘learn and earn’ program supported by the Israeli government.

He was among 265 final-year students of agriculture from three different universities in Nepal who traveled to Israel this year for the internship program, authorities confirmed.

“There is no update on Bipin from both governments. They should be at least able to tell us if he is alive or dead,” said Hem Raj Joshi, a relative.

Bipin is the only son and his both parents are government teachers, who took a loan to finance his travel and stay in Israel, he added.

The Nepal government has released the names of injured students and those evacuated so far, but there is no mention of Bipin in its list.

Basudev Joshi, a cousin, said the family is desperately seeking any information available from his friends and sources in the government.

“But no one has any answer to where he is now,” he said.

Birendra Chaudhary, one of the students who escaped unharmed, said he along with Bipin and other Nepali students rushed to a nearby bunker after hearing air sirens and missile attacks early morning on Oct. 7.

“It was silent for the next half an hour but soon Hamas militants attacked the bunker and fired gunshots indiscriminately,” he recalled.

Chaudhary, who is now sheltered in a secure place in Israel, said that “the gunshots missed me and a friend but hit other Nepali and Thai students inside the bunker.”

He said the militants possibly took Bipin and some Thai students as hostages.

But authorities in Nepal haven’t confirmed any of its citizens being among the 100 or so people reportedly taken as hostages by Hamas. Many among the 900 killed in Israel are yet to be identified.

Nepal’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said nearly 100 students from different high-risk areas in Israel have been rescued and moved to safe areas until Wednesday.

Kalpana Joshi, 22, a student who was rescued on Oct. 10, told UCA News how she along with 17 others from her university spent three harrowing days inside a bunker without food and water.

“We were scared even to breathe, lest the sound go outside and the militants come to kill us,” she said.

Most of the rescued students from Nepal are located somewhere near the Egyptian border and can hear gunshots and missiles being fired.

“They (rescuers) say it is safe but we fear for our safety. We urge the Nepali government to get us back to our country and to our parents,” Kalpana said.

Pushpa, her younger brother, said their mother is very worried and hasn’t eaten well since she heard about the attack in Israel.

“Our biggest festival Dashain is around the corner and she wants her daughter back so we can celebrate together,” he said.

The grieving families of the 10 students who were killed are still waiting for the mortal remains to arrive in Nepal.

Sewa Lamsal, a spokesperson of Nepal's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the government’s priority is to ensure the safety, security and relocation of Nepali nationals and to repatriate the bodies of 10 students who were killed.

The government has announced a financial relief of one million rupees (US $7,510) for each of the deceased families and observed Oct. 10 as a national mourning day.

The embassy in Tel Aviv has started online registration for those who want to return home and some 400 Nepalis have registered so far.

There are around 4,500 Nepalis working in Israel, mostly as caregivers, besides the 265 students, the foreign ministry said.

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