Palestinian health ministry ambulances cross the gate to enter the Rafah border crossing in the southern Gaza Strip before crossing into Egypt on November 1, 2023. AFP
On Sunday, Turkish Minister of Health Fahrettin Koca said he agreed with his Egyptian counterpart Khaled Abdel-Ghaffar on transferring nearly 1,000 civilians who need urgent treatment through the Rafah crossing to Egypt.
This especially includes cancer patients who were being treated at the Turkish-Palestinian Friendship Hospital in Gaza, the only cancer treatment hospital in Gaza, which had gone out of service recently after running out of fuel as reported by its director Subhi Skaik on Wednesday, Koca said on X (formerly Twitter).
“Our efforts to bring them to Egypt continue. Then, it is planned to transfer cancer patients and those in emergency conditions to our country via ambulance planes and hospital ships,” Koca added.
Since the start of the unrelenting Israeli war on Gaza a month ago, Israel has only allowed a limited number of humanitarian aid trucks to enter the strip, which did not contain any fuel.
The Israeli authorities barred the entry of fuel to Gaza, which is necessary for the operation of hospitals, bakeries, and water treatment facilities, on the pretext of preventing it from being used in military activities against Israel.
Hence, 16 out of 35 hospitals in Gaza have fully gone out of service amid a lack of fuel and the damage caused by the Israeli strikes, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health.
Egypt and Turkey have been cooperating on the treatment of the injured Palestinians evacuated from the strip. In October, a group of 20 Turkish doctors arrived in Egypt aboard a medical aid plane to help enhance the health system in North Sinai.
Turkey is willing to send up to 30 ambulances and Turkish doctors for cooperation in providing healthcare to Gazans, Abdel-Ghaffar said.
The Rafah crossing has been open for seriously injured Palestinians over the past week in light of Gaza hospitals' failure to handle the increased number of injuries.
Israeli strikes against a convoy of ambulances at Al-Shifa, Gaza's largest hospital, on Friday and refusal to allow the exit of some of the injured for treatment caused evacuations to stop through the crossing for several days before they resumed on Monday.
Abdel-Ghaffar noted this week that Egypt receives 40-50 injured Gazans for treatment daily and is willing to receive more.
On Monday, Egypt’s health ministry said it received 17 injured Palestinians from Gaza. Quarantine teams at the crossing also examined 166 foreign evacuees, including 42 children who were also vaccinated against polio, measles, and mumps.
Abdel-Ghaffar met with Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Tedros Adhanom on Monday, where they agreed on the need to guarantee security for medical teams and ambulances performing their humanitarian duties in Gaza.
They also discussed plans to expand life-saving assistance to the civilians in Gaza.
The Egyptian Red Crescent (ERC) teams dispatched on Monday 93 trucks loaded with humanitarian aid to the Palestine Red Crescent Society, upping the total to 569 trucks since 21 October.