Hundreds line up in Gaza to flee through Egypt crossing
PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES, (AFP) — Hundreds of Palestinian foreign passport holders waited on Tuesday inside the war-stricken and besieged Gaza Strip to escape through the Rafah crossing with Egypt.
While most still queued nervously, the first arrivals were seen on the Egyptian side where paramedics transferred an injured woman on a stretcher into an ambulance to rush her to a hospital.
Tuesday was set to mark the fifth day on which Gaza’s sole land crossing not controlled by Israel has opened in the past week, to wounded Palestinians as well as foreigners and Palestinian dual nationals.
AFP video footage from the Gaza side showed hundreds waiting with suitcases, bags and other scant belongings at the Rafah terminal complex.
“We were suffering just like any Gazan resident, we waited a long time for the crossing to open,” said Farid Nawasra, who holds a Russian passport.
“We were waiting every day for our names to be added to the list, and we hope today that they allow us to pass, as they allowed other foreigners to pass.”
Departures from the Gaza Strip were expected to resume for many more on Tuesday afternoon after 500 people had received authorisation to enter Egypt, Hamas officials said.
“Every person in Gaza is in danger,” said Myrian Abu Shaban, a resident of Gaza City. “I’m happy that we managed to make it to the border.”
Israeli forces have stepped up their ground offensive in Gaza as part of the military response to the October 7 Hamas attacks that officials say killed 1,400 people, mostly civilians, with more than 240 taken hostage.
The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza said Tuesday that 10,328 Palestinians had been killed in the territory since the start of Israel’s offensive, most of them civilians.
Israel says it tries to minimise civilian casualties and accuses Hamas of using non-combatants as human shields while embedding in homes, schools and hospitals.
Israel’s defence ministry body in charge of civil affairs in the Gaza Strip, COGAT, released a video that claimed to show thousands of Palestinians heading south from the northern Gaza Strip along a humanitarian corridor.
Hamas claimed the video footage was staged “in a humiliating way to demonstrate that a large number are fleeing south”.
Israeli forces have encircled Gaza City where they say Hamas’s main command and control facilities are located. The Israeli military has repeatedly called on Palestinian civilians to evacuate and move south.