JERUSALEM (ABC4) — The 93 students at the BYU Jerusalem Center in Israel, along with several BYU faculty, their families and service couples, safely found refuge in Athens on Sunday afternoon.
In a security update, the Jerusalem Center confirmed they had arrived in Athens just before 4 p.m. Utah time on Sunday, Oct. 15. The refugees were bused to a hotel near Nafplion.
Officials said not everyone at the Jerusalem Center made the trip to Greece, however. Jerusalem Center Executive Director Eran Hayet, Associate Director Tawfic Alawi, Head of Security Tarek Safadi and nearly 50 local employees and their families stayed behind.
“These beloved and trusted individuals and families – Israelis and Palestinians – remain in harm’s way,” Center officials wrote in a security update. “We ask that you pray for their safety and well-being.”
Jerusalem has remained relatively quiet as the conflict grows in the region. Through regular security updates, the Jerusalem Center said the Israel capital was “quiet” over the weekend. The Center said Friday saw typical tension for the city as Muslims gathered for noon prayer.
Tensions have been high in the city since the U.S.-recognized terrorist group, Hamas, launched a brutal attack on Israel on Saturday, Oct. 7. According to the Associated Press, more than 4,000 Israelis and Palestinians have been killed since. On Thursday, the White House confirmed 27 American citizens have died as a result of the ongoing violence and 14 remain unaccounted for.
One man with ties to Utah was killed in the attacks. Lotan Abir, who has lived in Utah for nine months, was attending a rave in Israel with a group of friends. Abir was confirmed to have been killed in the fighting. His friends were able to survive.