TEL AVIV (Sep. 26)
About 100 Israelis have been evacuated from Zaire, where an uprising has erupted against the 26-year rule of President Mobutu Sese Seko.
Only the Israeli ambassador and the head of the Israeli military mission remain in Kinshasa, capital of the Central African nation, where rioting and looting has taken at least 30 lives since Monday.
The evacuation of Israelis accompanies that of tens of thousands of foreign nationals from Belgium, France and Portugal.
Other Israeli diplomats, Israel Defense Force advisers and businessmen, reached safety with their families in Brazzaville, in neighboring Congo, the Foreign Ministry reported Thursday.
A plane dispatched from Tel Aviv is bringing them home, the ministry said.
It said the Israelis’ evacuation across the Congo River was aided by U.S. personnel and by French and Belgian troops, who were rushed to the stricken country Tuesday.
Zaire, like nearly all African nations, broke diplomatic relations with Israel after the 1973 Yom Kippur War as a gesture of solidarity with Egypt. But full ties were re-established in May 1983 and Mobutu, who received his military training in Israel, was instrumental in convincing other African leaders to follow suit.
Israel has always maintained a large military mission in Zaire and trained its elite paratroop units at Mobutu’s request.
The revolt against him was triggered by some 3,000 paratroopers who, having not been paid for several months, mutinied at their base on the outskirts of Kinshasa.