Efforts underway to resume evacuating foreigners from Gaza to Egypt after Israeli airstrike: Reuters

Ahram Online , Sunday 5 Nov 2023

Efforts are underway to resume the evacuation of foreign nationals from Gaza to Egypt after they were halted following an Israeli airstrike Friday, according to reporting by Reuters.

People gather around an ambulance damaged in a reported Israeli strike in front of Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City on November 3, 2023, as battles between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas movement continue AFP


The evacuation of foreigners will possibly open this afternoon, a senior US State Department official told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

“Hamas refused to cooperate today,” the Washington Post quoted an official as saying on Saturday, expressing hopes for things to be back to normal on Sunday.

Meanwhile, a border official told the AFP that the Hamas government in Gaza suspended the exit of foreigners to Egypt on Saturday as Israel has refused to allow the evacuation of injured Palestinians to Egyptian hospitals, AFP cited a border official as saying.

"No foreign passport holder will be able to leave the Gaza Strip until wounded people who need to be evacuated from hospitals in north Gaza are transported through the Rafah crossing" to Egypt, the official said on condition of anonymity.

An Egyptian security source also told AFP that no injured persons or foreigners crossed from Rafah on Saturday, confirming that the evacuation was suspended after the Israeli bombing of ambulances outside Al-Shifa hospital.

On Friday, the Israeli army announced it had struck an ambulance outside Al-Shifa hospital, Gaza's largest, claiming that it was "used by a Hamas terrorist cell". The attack killed at least 15 people and injured 60 more, according to the health ministry in Gaza.

The health ministry in Gaza has called for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) or Egypt on Sunday to ensure the safe exit of the injured from the strip until their arrival to Sinai.

Egypt has also demanded a commitment from the US to ensure the safe exit of wounded Palestinians from Gaza without being attacked by Israel, Saudi TV news channel Al-Arabiya reported on Saturday.

Delayed foreigners evacuation

Israeli reports have quoted a senior US official as claiming that the evacuation of foreigners is being delayed by Hamas attempts to send its injured fighters through the Rafah crossing for treatment. The reports did not name the official.

The Egyptian Ministry of Health did not issue on Saturday its daily figures of patients examined after evacuation through the crossing.

However, Minister of Health Khaled Abdel-Ghaffar held a press conference in North Sinai’s El-Arish on Saturday, saying that Egypt receives between 40 to 50 injured Palestinians from Gaza for treatment daily and is willing to receive more.

Hundreds of foreigners and dual nationals have crossed the Rafah crossing from Gaza since Wednesday as per a recently reached deal. The Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Thursday that it is working to evacuate 7,000 foreigners from over 60 countries.

The Rafah crossing has been open over the past few days for seriously injured Palestinians, in light of Gaza hospitals' failure to handle the increased number of injuries.

Israeli strikes on the Gaza Strip since October 7 have killed more than 9,700 Palestinians, most of whom are women and children, and injured more than 24,000 others, according to the health ministry in Gaza.

Nearly half of the hospitals in Gaza have gone out of service due to the unrelenting Israeli bombardment, as well as Israel's ban on fuel entering the enclave.

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