Sleeping in the arms of their loving parents, these are among more than two dozen babies recently born to surrogate mothers for gay Israeli couples who are being airlifted out of Nepal to safety.
The infants – some of whom were prematurely born – were evacuated from the country on Monday following Saturday’s devastating earthquake, which has so far claimed more than 4,300 lives.
Several premature babies – and some wounded people – were ferried to Israel on a small military aircraft in the morning. The plane had previously delivered doctors to Nepal to aid rescue efforts.
Later in the day, five more infants landed safely in Tel Aviv with their Israeli families. Some were seen resting peacefully in their carriers, while others were clutched tightly to their parents’ chests.
Israel told AFP that it planned to airlift 25 babies recently born to Nepalese surrogates out of the country this week. However, other reports have said that 33 youngsters will be rescued in total.
Many Israeli male couples have traveled to capital of Kathmandu to father children with the help of surrogate mothers because in Israel the procedure is limited by law to only heterosexual partners.
However, in the wake of the 7.8-magnitude earthquake – which led to a series of avalanches which buried the Everest base camp – the new parents have been eager to get their babies out of Nepal.
The parents who were pictured returning to Sde Dov Airport on Monday had traveled abroad before Saturday’s disaster to collect their children. Four surrogate mothers are also being airlifted to safety.
Also on Monday, five other flights flew to Kathmandu carrying Israeli rescue teams, IDF soldiers and medical crews in a bid to help victims of the deadly earthquake, according to the Jerusalem Post.
Yossi Filiba, a single father from Tel Aviv, said by telephone from Kathmandu on Sunday that he had traveled to Nepal more than three weeks ago to witness the birth of his baby girl, Na’ama.
He told Reuters he and several Israeli couples and their surrogate babies had found shelter in the ground floor of a building in the capital, and were waiting for the Israeli air force to evacuate them.
‘We don’t know when they will get here,’ he said. ‘The water is going to finish and I am with a small baby. There is very little food and no electricity, although sometimes there is a generator.’
Mr Filiba said Israeli parents usually spend a month in Nepal for their child’s birth and to make final arrangements to bring them home. The quake hit when Mr Filiba was feeding Na’ama at home.
‘I grabbed the baby, ran down three floors and out to open space. All around us, small buildings were collapsing and people were terrified,’ he said, recounting the moment the disaster occurred.
Israel’s military had already dispatched an 80-member search and rescue team to Nepal prior to sending other aircraft carrying medical personnel, soldiers and supplies to the country on Monday.
Mr Filiba said on Sunday that the planes could not come soon enough.
‘There are cracks all over the building,’ he said. ‘I’m not sleeping because of the baby – which is a good reason – but I’m also not sleeping because of worries about the building collapsing.’
Israel’s parliament is considering legislation that would allow same-sex couples and single parents to have babies through surrogate mothers in Israel itself.
It comes as four Americans are dead and dozens are believed to be missing in the Himalayas as families across the world scramble to find information on their loved ones after the earthquake.