Egypt opened its border crossing with the Gaza Strip Thursday to receive Palestinians injured in an intensifying Israeli offensive against the enclave, Egyptian and Palestinian officials have said.
Egyptian authorities have decided to open the crossing exceptionally to allow in wounded Palestinians for treatment in Egyptian hospitals, a statement by the Palestinian embassy in Egypt said Thursday.
The move comes on the back of intensifying violence in the coastal strip where Israeli airstrikes have killed at least 70 Palestinians since Operation Protective Edge began Tuesday, more than 50 of them civilians, Gaza medical officials said.
Hospitals in North Sinai, which adjoins Gaza and Israel, have been put on standby to receive the Palestinians, the provincial governor was quoted as saying by state news agency MENA.
Complete wards have been designated to receive the Palestinians in the North Sinai town of Al-Arish, with medics volunteering to work extra hours, said Wael Nasr Al-Din, Egyptian ambassador in Palestine.A delegation from Egypt's health ministry was to head to the border to receive the first batch of the Palestinians, the embassy statement added. Serious cases will be transferred to the capital Cairo.
Egyptian authorities have largely kept the crossing closed since former president Mohamed Morsi's removal, citing security concerns in the restive Sinai Peninsula where an Islamist insurgency is burgeoning.
The closure of the passage has taken a toll on an estimated 1.7 million Palestinians living in the Hamas-dominated Gaza Strip, under a crippling Israeli siege since 2006.
Violence in the coastal strip began building up three weeks ago after three Jewish students were abducted in the occupied West Bank. They were killed and their bodies were found last week. Then a Palestinian teenager was kidnapped and killed in Jerusalem.