Foreign nationals, injured Palestinians arrive in Egypt as aid to Gaza across Rafah increases
Cairo: Some 110 foreign passport holders along with injured Palestinians have begun arriving here crossing the Rafah border from Gaza for the first time since the Israel-Hamas war began on October 7, officials and Egyptian media reports said.
At least 110 foreign nationals left Gaza following diplomatic efforts (involving Qatar, Egypt, Hamas and the US) to permit them to depart the enclave. Americans are not expected to be among the first group of foreigners potentially allowed to leave Gaza, officials said.
Egyptian state-affiliated Al-Qahera News reported on Wednesday that the first group of dual nationals has arrived in Egypt from Gaza through the Rafah border crossing.
Also, the Al-Arish Hospital in Egypt has begun receiving injured Palestinians coming from the Gaza Strip, according to Al-Qahera News.
CNN reports from the battlefield in Gaza quoted the spokesperson for Egypt’s Ministry of Health as saying that injured Palestinians from Gaza have begun arriving in Egypt through the Rafah border crossing “one by one”.
Their exit followed a deal brokered by Qatar between Israel, Hamas and Egypt, in coordination with the US, allowing for the release of foreign nationals and critically-injured civilians from Gaza, according to informed sources.
Some 500 more foreigners are expected to cross out of Gaza at Rafah. Hundreds of foreign and dual nationals are among the more than two million people stranded inside the enclave.
Meanwhile, An second Israeli strike on Gaza’s densely-populated Jabaliya refugee camp on Tuesday led to an absolute catastrophe, leaving a large number of civilians dead besides damaging properties and homes, according to eyewitnesses and medics there, CNN reporters from the field said.
Israel claimed its strike targeted and killed a top Hamas commander, but Hamas strongly denied the presence of one of its leaders in the camp.
Meanwhile, communication links broke down again in Gaza on Wednesday, telecom companies said, as Israel maintained its bombardment as part of its expanded ground operation despite calls from multiple UN agencies for a humanitarian ceasefire.
Seventeen ambulances with an unspecified number of patients also left the Gaza side of the border on Wednesday, according to Rafah Crossing Media, the official communications wing of the border crossing.
Some 20 trucks carrying aid, not clearly known what type, have arrived in Gaza.
Meanwhile, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, said he was “appalled by the high number of casualties” from the Israeli strike on the Jabaliya refugee camp in Gaza.
He also urged both parties to balance their right to self-defence with the “obligation to spare civilians to the greatest extent possible”, reports said .
“Building on the EU Council’s clear stance that Israel has the right to defend itself in line with international humanitarian law and ensuring the protection of all civilians, I am appalled by the high number of casualties following the bombing by Israel of the Jabalia refugee camp,” Borrell said in a statement on social media.
“Laws of war and humanity must always apply, including when it comes to humanitarian assistance. With the unfolding tragedy in Gaza, the European Union has been calling since last week for humanitarian corridors and pauses for humanitarian needs,” he said, adding, “The right to self-defence should always be balanced by the obligation to spare civilians to the greatest extent possible.”
A spokesperson for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), meanwhile, justified the strike on the Jabalia refugee camp, saying it was targeting the Hamas commander and the strike was a “clear military necessity” against a “legitimate target”.
A spokesperson for Hamas has denied that the commander was there, and called the Israeli strike a “heinous crime against civilians, children, and women”.
Atef Al Kahlout, Director of Gaza’s Indonesian Hospital, said the strike had caused hundreds of casualties.
“Many are still under the rubble,” he added.
The deal to release foreigners from Gaza into Egypt is not part of the main deal to secure the release of hostages being held by Hamas, multiple sources said.
Those talks are still ongoing and one US official said they would caution against drawing any comparisons between the two parallel missions.
But the players in both negotiations are the same: Israel, Egypt, Qatar, Hamas and the US.