MANILA, January 8, 2003 (STAR) By Aurea Calica  - The Israeli Embassy in Manila said yesterday it will provide full medical care to Filipinos and other nationals who fell victim to last Sunday’s twin suicide bombings in Tel Aviv.

"Israel will render full medical care for all foreign citizens, including Filipinos, who were injured in the incidents, without considering their legality status. These foreign nationals will not face deportation from Israel once (they) receive medical care," the embassy said in a statement.

The embassy added that the "Palestinian terrorists deliberately targeted a crowded area in Tel Aviv, in order to kill as many people as possible, from as many countries as possible. It was proven once again that terror does not differ between nationals and religions."

There were varying figures on how many Filipinos were wounded in the twin bombings. Many of them were afraid to come out and be treated, as they might face deportation.

Embassy Second Secretary Roi Dvir said there were no Filipinos among the 23 killed, 20 of whom have been identified. Dvir said a majority of the fatalities were Israelis while two were Bulgarians, one was a Romanian and another a Ghana national.

He said over 100 were injured and, based on their information, four of them were Filipinos, two of whom had serious wounds.

The Department of Labor and Employment reported that 12 Filipinos were wounded but most of them suffered slight injuries and were sent home after treatment in a hospital. Five were confined in a hospital, two of them in critical condition, Labor Secretary Patricia Sto. Tomas reported last Monday.

Authorities withheld the identities of the victims so their families can be formally informed by government officials.

"Governments, especially those whose nationals have been killed or injured, should strongly condemn this horrible crime, when innocent people are brutally killed. The government of Israel appreciates the expressions of sympathy from the governments of the United States, Germany, Italy, Britain, France, Russia, Japan, and the President of the European Union," Dvir told a press conference.

Dvir added that the Israeli government "will take all necessary measures to defend its citizens from aggressive Palestinian terrorism."

The Israeli government said Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian Authority, by sowing terror through forces under their direct responsibility — Fatah, Tanzim, as-Aqsa Martyr’s Brigade — and by aiding and abetting the terrorist acts of Hamas and the Islamic Jihad, could not be perceived as partners of peace.

Dvir said the evacuation of foreign nationals will depend on their governments and the foreign workers themselves.

"We are not deporting anyone. We are hosting them. It is up to the governments of foreign nationals to decide whether to evacuate them," he said.

The Israeli government has pledged to pay all hospital expenses of those wounded in the attacks.

An estimated 35,000 Filipinos work in Israel, most as caregivers who stay most of the time in the relative safety of their employers’ homes.

The blasts occurred in rapid succession during rush hour Sunday on two parallel streets in the poor Neve Shaanan district. The two bombers, carrying 15 kilos of explosives each according to police, were blasted apart.

Seventeen bodies, including those of the bombers, were recovered at the scene, police said. Eight more people died in hospitals.

Around half of the victims are thought to have been among migrant workers who live in the district, many working illegally.

Interior Minister Eli Yishai told illegal foreign workers hurt in the attacks not to be afraid to come for treatment in Israeli hospitals.

He pledged to give residence visas for several months "to all those who are victims, physically or mentally, of the double attack, as well as their relatives who live in Israel or who come from abroad to help them.

Israel’s government has long targeted illegal workers, sending inspectors to work sites, arresting illegals on the spot and sending them to detention centers to await deportation.

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