Hundreds of Pacific Islanders were on the trip of a lifetime in Israel when war suddenly broke out.
Pesi Sikalu is one of many who were on religious trips to the country but are now stuck in the war zone after their flights home were cancelled.
They are all safe, but scared, telling 1News: “When we were outdoors the siren alarmed. I think that was the first time we felt this was serious and we heard the bombs, felt the vibration — I think it just shocked us”
Overnight, a private Fiji Airways charter arrived at Ben Gurion Airport and picked up more than 200 Fijians, taking them out of the war zone and home to safety.
Also on board was the religious Samoan delegates for Israel group.
However, a group of New Zealand Tongans are still waiting. They understand a way home is being organised.
Sikalu said they would return with a stronger faith and sense of gratitude.
“There has been such a weird sense of peace — it’s hard to explain to our family members but we’re at peace. We are going to be home soon, said Kilau.