Foreigners depart Gaza via Rafah border, entering Egypt

01.11.2023 posted by Admin

Foreign passport holders flee Gaza amidst border opening

In Gaza, hundreds of individuals holding foreign passports and those who have been injured in the recent conflict have started leaving the region. This became possible as the Rafah border crossing to Egypt was opened for the first time since the October 7 Hamas attacks on Israel. The Interior Ministry of Gaza, which is controlled by Hamas, has released a list of foreign passport holders eligible to leave through the Rafah crossing.

Among these individuals, there are at least five NGO workers confirmed to be Americans who are scheduled to cross on Wednesday. However, it remains uncertain how many of the estimated 400 American citizens stuck in Gaza, according to the U.S. State Department, will be able to leave in the coming days.

One American who is currently trapped in Gaza shared her skepticism with CBS News, expressing doubts about her immediate departure. Susan Beseiso, a resident of Utah, remarked, "They started letting foreigners out today, but it's not Americans because I guess we're not as important as we thought."

She also expressed frustration with the lack of communication from the American Embassy and the State Department, stating, "The American Embassy and the State Department haven't called us since the last time we went to the border and got bombed four times. They haven't been communicating with us or doing anything to get us out. It's like they're holding us hostages — not Hamas holding us hostages — it's the IDF soldiers, Egypt, and America. They're using us as a human shield in a way."

On Wednesday morning, the gate on the Palestinian side of the Rafah crossing was opened, allowing people to cross into Egypt for the first time since the conflict began. While convoys of humanitarian aid had been permitted to pass between Egypt and Gaza, the Rafah crossing had remained closed to people until this point.

Approximately 545 foreigners and dual nationals, along with dozens of individuals who are sick or wounded, were expected to depart through the Rafah crossing. Once inside the terminal area, long lines formed as individuals awaited passport and document checks.

The first ambulances carrying injured Palestinians from war-torn Gaza entered Egypt through the Rafah crossing on Wednesday. An Egyptian official, speaking anonymously, confirmed this development.

CBS News producer Marwan Al Ghoul had previously reported that among those crossing into Egypt were at least 81 people who were allowed to travel in ambulances from Rafah to Arish for medical treatment.

The area around the terminal at the Rafah border crossing had been impacted during Israeli airstrikes following the Hamas attacks, which Israeli authorities claimed resulted in 1,400 casualties, mainly civilians. An additional 240 individuals were reportedly taken hostage.

Some of those leaving for medical treatment in Egyptian hospitals were among the more than 15,000 individuals wounded, as reported by the Hamas-controlled Gaza Health Ministry. They stated that retaliatory Israeli strikes had led to the deaths of over 8,500 people, with two-thirds of them being women and children.

Meanwhile, it was reported on Wednesday that the entire Gaza Strip was experiencing another internet blackout. This followed a 48-hour communications blackout when Israel expanded its ground operation last week. Telecommunications were restored briefly on Monday before this new blackout occurred.
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