Foreigners, injured people leave Gaza through Rafah border for 1st time since Israel-Hamas war (WATCH)
Dozens of foreign passport holders and injured people trapped in Gaza have been permitted to leave the Strip as the Rafah crossing to Egypt opens for the first time since the devastating Israel-Hamas war broke out on October 7.
The Rafah crossing to Egypt was opened for the first time on Wednesday since the devastating Hamas attack on October 7, allowing dozens of foreign passport holders and injured people trapped in Gaza to leave the Strip. While convoys of much-needed aid have been moving between Egypt and Gaza, people had not been allowed to cross until now. This development is expected to enable around 400 foreigners and dual nationals to depart from Gaza today.
According to a list reportedly released by Hamas, the people likely to leave Gaza Strip include employees of the Red Cross, citizens of Australia, Austria, Jordan and Indonesia. However, there is no official confirmation on the same.
On the Egyptian side of the border, ambulances are on standby to transport approximately 90 sick and wounded individuals who are also being permitted to leave. There have been reports that Egypt is constructing a field hospital along the border to address the healthcare needs of those in transit.
The agreement to open the crossing was brokered by Qatar and involves Egypt, Israel, and the Hamas terror group, which governs Gaza, in coordination with the United States. According to Reuters, there is no agreement on how long the crossing will remain open.
No one had been allowed to leave Gaza, except for four hostages released by Hamas. While over 200 trucks carrying crucial aid have entered Gaza from Egypt, individuals seeking to escape the distressed enclave were not permitted to leave.
Foreign governments have reported the presence of passport holders from 44 countries and 28 agencies, including UN bodies, residing in the Gaza Strip. This area, home to 2.4 million people, has endured over three weeks of continuous Israeli bombardment in response to the Hamas attacks on October 7.
The Rafah crossing opened at a time when Palestinians in Gaza experienced another widespread disruption of internet and phone services on Wednesday. This happened following Israeli airstrikes that flattened apartment buildings near Gaza City and as ground troops engaged in battles with Hamas militants within the besieged territory.
The Palestinian telecoms company, Paltel, reported a "complete disruption" of internet and mobile phone services in Gaza. This marks the second instance in five days where residents were largely cut off from the rest of the world. A similar communication outage occurred over the weekend when Israeli troops entered Gaza in larger numbers.
Meanwhile, as the war between Israel and Hamas rages on, nine Israeli soldiers were killed in fighting deep inside the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, raising the death toll among Israel Defense Forces (IDF) to 11. Leaders of the military warned of the "heavy toll" being paid as the army continues its offensive to destroy the Hamas terror group.
"The loss of IDF soldiers in battles with Hamas terrorists in Gaza is a severe and painful blow," Defense Minister Yoav Gallant posted on X on Wednesday morning, sending his condolences to the families of the fallen.
"Our significant achievements in the powerful fighting deep in the Strip are taking, to our sorrow, a heavy toll," he added, vowing that Israel was ready for a long and complex operation.
Since the beginning of the Israel-Hamas war on October 7, some 11,000 sites belonging to the Palestinian terrorist organisation and other terror groups have been hit, the IDF said today.