Gaza aid, foreigners’ passage 'inoperable' due to Israeli bombardment: Shoukry

Amr Kandil , Sunday 15 Oct 2023

Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry said Egypt is keen to deliver the humanitarian aid received from different states to the Gaza Strip and facilitate the passage of foreigners stranded in the enclave through Rafah Border Crossing to Cairo and then to their countries of origin.

Rafah border crossing
A file photo of the Rafah border crossing on Egypt-Gaza border. AFP


However, the Israeli bombardments on the Palestinian side of the Rafah border crossing between the Gaza Strip and Sinai have made the process "inoperable", Shoukry noted in a telephone interview with CNN on Saturday.

The Rafah crossing is officially open on the Egyptian side, though, the roads leading to the crossing on the Gazan side are currently “not in any state to receive vehicles” due to the Israeli bombardments, Shoukry explained.

Egypt’s top diplomat also highlighted another obstacle facing the aid delivery from Sinai to Gaza, saying the border crossing management on the Gazan side wants third-country nationals stranded in the Palestinian enclave to come out first.

"Those operating the Gazan side deem third [country] nationals must come out so that humanitarian goods could come in," Shoukry said. "We have been not able to get any authorization to send the humanitarian supplies," he added.

Foreign citizens' crossing

As for foreigners trapped in Gaza, Shoukry said Egypt is keen to facilitate their entry to Sinai through the crossing. However, they need to gain permission from the Gazan side to be able to cross to Egypt.

"If all the procedures have been duly taken and their documents have been verified on the Gazan side to cross, we will provide them with all the facilities in cooperation with their embassies to get them [by road] to a departure point [Cairo] so that they can return to their countries of origin," Shoukry said.

Informed sources told Al-Qahere News TV on Saturday that Egyptian authorities have denied passage of foreign residents in Gaza through the Rafah crossing unless an agreement is reached to allow delivery of humanitarian aid.

FM Shoukry added that there is a large number of foreign nationals in Gaza including from the US, Canada, the Netherlands and Austria.

Gaza under blockade

Israeli air and artillery strikes on the Gaza Strip over the past eight days have killed more than 2,300 Palestinians, most of whom civilians, exceeding the toll of the 2014 deadliest Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Gaza, in which Israel killed 2,251 Palestinians in 50 days.

In addition, Israel has imposed a full blockade of the Gaza Strip and severed all food, water, and electricity supplies, putting the Palestinian territory at risk of a humanitarian catastrophe.

Egypt has continued to receive aid flights from several countries in North Sinai's El-Arish Airport for delivery to Gaza, home to 2.3 million Palestinians. However, the aid is awaiting passage to Gaza.

Egypt is coordinating with the United Nations to secure permission for the delivery of humanitarian supplies through the Rafah crossing.

Shoukry told CNN that Egypt has not yet received any authorization.

He added that Gaza is witnessing "very dire" humanitarian circumstances, noting that the UNRWA director has briefed him on the absence of electricity, water and supplies.

Furthermore, Israeli forces were deployed near Gaza in preparation for a ground operation two days after they ordered 1.1 million people in northern Gaza to leave their homes and head south.

Israel has destroyed or damaged the homes of 1 million Palestinians in Gaza, displacing hundreds of thousands inside the strip, the UN humanitarian office reported earlier last week.

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