Egypt's Rafah crossing reopens for wounded Palestinians and foreign nationals

At least 80 aid lorries had entered Gaza by Sunday afternoon, officials say

Palestinians with Canadian passports who were evacuated by bus from Gaza through the Rafah border crossing. Reuters
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The border crossing between Egypt and Gaza reopened on Sunday, allowing scores of foreigners and dual nationals, as well as several wounded Palestinians, to leave the enclave that has been devastated by relentless Israeli bombardment since October 7, Egyptian security officials said.

At least seven injured Palestinians arrived on Egyptian soil to receive medical treatment after a two-day border closure. More than 80 foreign nationals also crossed, with more undergoing border procedures, the officials said.

More than 32 Egyptians also crossed, they said.

The officials said dozens of foreign diplomats had waited at the Egyptian side of the border to receive those crossing and help them to travel to Cairo.

At least 80 aid lorries had also moved from Egypt into Gaza by Sunday afternoon, the officials added.

Humanitarian supplies started to be sent to Gaza through the Rafah crossing on October 21.

The UN said the aid, mostly water, food and medicine, fell far short of the levels needed after more than five weeks of bombardment and a complete blockade by Israel.

The vast majority of Gaza's 2.3 million residents are unable to escape the war, which erupted on October 7 when Hamas militants mounted an attack in southern Israel, killing 1,200 people and taking about 240 hostages.

Israel's response was an aerial onslaught that has displaced half of Gaza's population and, according to the enclave's Hamas-run Health Ministry, killed more than 11,000 Palestinians. Entire blocks in built-up areas have been destroyed.

Late on Saturday, border authorities in Gaza called for “all foreign passport holders and people on evacuation lists” to report to the terminal, located at the southern tip of the Gaza Strip.

Palestinians with dual citizenship gradually leave Gaza

Palestinians with dual citizenship gradually leave Gaza

Since November 1, dozens of wounded Palestinians have been evacuated to Egyptian hospitals, with hundreds of dual nationals and foreigners, including Americans, French, Russians and Poles, also leaving through Rafah.

The crossing, located in the north-eastern corner of the Sinai Peninsula, is the only one from Gaza not controlled by Israel.

Evacuations through the crossing were suspended for a third time on Friday amid issues related to the safety of transporting injured Palestinians from northern Gaza, the officials said.

The US said on Sunday that it had told Israel's forces to avoid fighting inside hospitals in the Gaza Strip, White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told CBS News.

“The United States does not want to see firefights in hospitals where innocent people, patients receiving medical care, are caught in the crossfire, and we've had active consultations with the [Israeli forces] on this,” Mr Sullivan told the Face the Nation programme.

Pope appeals for aid

On Sunday at The Vatican, Pope Francis appealed for an end to hostilities, calling for “much more” aid.

The 86-year-old pontiff had already called for the creation of humanitarian corridors and said a two-state solution was needed to end the Israel-Hamas conflict.

“Enough, enough brothers, enough,” he said, addressing the crowds in St Peter's Square after his weekly Angelus prayers.

He said arms would never bring peace and warned the conflict must not widen.

He said the wounded in the Gaza Strip needed to be taken care of immediately, the protection of civilians ensured and the hostages held by Hamas freed.

“I am close to all those who suffer, Palestinians and Israelis,” he said. He was praying for them all, he added.

Updated: November 13, 2023, 6:39 AM