Gaza receives five new ambulances sent by Kuwait

Emergency vehicles enter Rafah crossing as UN rights commissioner visits Egypt-Gaza border

Two of the 12 ambulances destined for Gaza on board a military aircraft carrying humanitarian aid from Kuwait. Kuna / AFP
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Five new ambulances sent by Kuwait entered the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, as the UN's human rights chief visited the Rafah crossing that has become the only route for humanitarian assistance to the heavily bombarded enclave.

Twelve ambulances have been delivered to Egypt's North Sinai city of Arish together with several aid shipments from Kuwait after the Israel-Gaza war began on October 7, the Kuwait News Agency reported.

The last two ambulances arrived with Kuwait's 12th aid shipment in Arish on Saturday, but delivery was delayed pending co-ordination between the Egyptian Red Crescent, the Israeli military and the Gaza border authority, a Red Crescent official told The National.

It is unclear when the remaining seven vehicles will be delivered.

Volker Turk, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, visited the Egypt-Gaza border on Wednesday as ambulances continued to ferry wounded Palestinians from Gaza for treatment at hospitals in North Sinai as part of an internationally brokered deal to allow thousands of foreign passport holders to leave Gaza.

Mr Turk, who is on a five-day tour of the Middle East, spoke to aid workers and reporters, the Red Crescent official said.

He called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, where the death toll from Israeli attacks rose to more than 10,500 on Wednesday, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.

Mr Turk also visited the Al Arish General Hospital where he met Gazans who were receiving treatment.

Twelve of the 19 patients admitted to Egyptian hospitals on Tuesday were children with cancer, the ministry said.

Meanwhile, 106 lorries carrying humanitarian aid entered Gaza through the Rafah crossing on Wednesday, a border official told The National.

Only 756 lorries had entered Gaza by Wednesday after Israel began allowing deliveries of essential items – apart from fuel on October 21 – according to figures released by the UN, which has repeatedly warned the flow of aid is far below what is needed.

A World Food Programme official told The National that shops in Gaza were running out of food.

Mageed Yahia, WFP representative to the GCC, said food stocks in Gaza shops were dropping rapidly, with wheat flour, dairy products, pulses, rice, vegetable oil, vegetables, eggs and mineral water reported to be enough for less than five days.

Despite some food being available at wholesalers, shops are unable to restock because of damaged roads, safety concerns and a shortage of fuel, Mr Yahia said.

Mills in Gaza have about 10,000 tonnes of wheat stock that needs to be milled into flour to make bread, but all but one such plant in Gaza has stopped operations due to lack of fuel.

The one remaining mill may close in the coming days, he said.

Egyptian security sources said Egypt was continuing to press for increased aid and fuel into the strip and security for ambulances after an Israeli strike on an ambulance that was heading to Rafah prompted the closure of the crossing to human traffic on Saturday and Sunday.

A total of 663 foreign citizens departed the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, a day after the crossing was reopened, a border guard stationed there told The National.

No foreign nationals left the strip on Wednesday, the crossing guard said.

The Egyptian Health Ministry said they included 139 children who were vaccinated for polio, measles and mumps on arrival.

Tuesday’s evacuations included an undetermined number of Egyptians. While foreigners are usually collected by large buses chartered by the Foreign Ministry, Egyptians leave the crossing in taxis or other forms of transport, the guard said.

The estimated 7,000 foreign passport holders trapped by the conflict in Gaza can pass through only after receiving approval from the Gaza border authority, which publishes lists of those cleared to leave on its Facebook page.

It issued two new lists on Tuesday, one with 103 Egyptians and the other with more than 700 people from other countries.

Updated: November 09, 2023, 10:21 AM