Mohammed Abed Agence France-Presse Dozens of people were allowed to enter the Rafah crossing point on Wednesday morning, after Egypt announced its exceptional opening.
Jonah Mandel – Agence France-Presse and Adel Zaanoun – Agence France-Presse respectively in Jerusalem and Rafah
- Middle East
Hundreds of injured Palestinians and foreigners are set to leave the Gaza Strip, subject to incessant Israeli bombardment, via the Egyptian Rafah border crossing on Wednesday, a first since the start of the war between Israel and Hamas on October 7 .
According to an Egyptian border official, the first ambulances carrying injured people were even able to enter Egypt around 5:30 a.m. EDT.
Earlier, an AFP journalist on the scene saw a first group of dozens of people being allowed into the crossing around 3:45 a.m. EDT, after Egyptian authorities announced its exceptional opening to allow 88 injured Palestinians and a total of 545 dual nationals and foreigners to leave the Palestinian territory on Wednesday, where the humanitarian situation is considered “disastrous”.
A list with their names, nationalities and passport numbers was published by the administration of the Palestinian part of the terminal and, in AFPTV images, we can see families carrying their personal belongings and some injured people in wheelchairs as well. as ambulances enter the highly secure terminal.
“We are overwhelmed. Have pity on us. We are Egyptians and we can’t even reach our country,” said Oum Youssef, a dual national still present on the Palestinian side. “Let us pass. We are exhausted. We can neither sleep nor eat.”
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On the 26th day of the war, triggered by the unprecedented bloody attack by the Palestinian Islamist movement in Israel on October 7, the Israeli army announced on Wednesday the deaths of 11 of its soldiers the day before in the “ferocious fighting” that now pits it against Hamas amid the ruins of the Gaza Strip.
Israel has launched a vast military operation to “annihilate” Hamas, which has ruled the Gaza Strip since 2007, in retaliation for the attack by the Palestinian Islamist movement, whose commandos killed at least 1,400 people that day, mostly civilians, according to the Israeli authorities.
According to a latest report from Hamas, more than 8,500 Palestinians, including more than 3,500 children, have been killed since the start of the Israeli army's bombardments on the Gaza Strip.
Thousands of Others have been injured and the territory's hospitals are overwhelmed, sometimes operating “on the ground.”
Women, old people, children
Wednesday morning, In Rafah, on the Egyptian side, Egyptian televisions close to the intelligence services showed live a line of ambulances entering the terminal.
According to a Palestinian official at the terminal, a total of 88 injured people, including 40 children, women and elderly people, were expected to leave via Rafah to be treated in Egyptian hospitals.
The spokesperson for the Ministry of Defense Health to the Hamas government in Gaza, Ashraf al-Qudra, told AFP that his services had submitted to Egypt a list of 4,000 wounded requiring care which cannot be provided in the Gaza Strip.
A medical official from the Egyptian town of Al-Arich, about forty km from Rafah, told AFP on Tuesday, on condition of anonymity, that a “field hospital of 1,300 m2” had been set up in Cheikh Zoueid, about ten km from Rafah.
The Gaza Strip has been subjected since October 9 to a “complete siege” which deprives its 2.4 million inhabitants of water deliveries , food and electricity.
According to COGAT, the Israeli Defense Ministry body overseeing civilian activities in the Palestinian Territories, 70 trucks of humanitarian aid entered Gaza on Tuesday. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported 143 trucks entering between October 21 and Monday evening, but insisted on the need for much more massive aid.
Le Haut -UN Refugee Commissioner Filippo Grandi on Tuesday implored the Security Council to “overcome” its fractures to “demand” a ceasefire.
In the Palestinian territory, at least 240 hostages, kidnapped during the October 7 attack, are also still in the hands of Hamas, which Israel, the United States and the European Union consider a “terrorist” organization.
While their loved ones, in Israel and abroad, live in anguish over their fate, the military wing of Hamas assured Tuesday that it stood ready to release “a certain number of 'foreigners in the coming days'.
11 Israeli soldiers killed on Tuesday
Already massive, Israeli bombings have further increased in intensity in recent days. On Wednesday, the Israeli army announced that it had struck “more than 11,000 targets” since October 7.
These bombings are now coupled with “fierce fighting” on the ground, according to the same source. On Tuesday, 11 Israeli soldiers were killed in the fighting, the Israeli army said, bringing the number of soldiers killed since the start of the war to 326.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reacted by promising “victory” despite these “painful losses”.
On Monday and Tuesday, the Israeli army claimed to have killed “dozens” of Hamas fighters. The Palestinian Islamist movement has not provided any assessment of its losses. Tuesday was also marked by a deadly bombardment by the Israeli army of the largest refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, in Jabaliya (116,000 inhabitants), aimed at “eliminating” a Hamas leader.
This bombing left dozens dead and hundreds injured, according to the Hamas Ministry of Health. In an AFPTV video, it was possible to count at least 47 bodies draped in shrouds lying on the ground in the courtyard of a hospital after being extracted from the rubble.
“It was a scene of an earthquake,” camp resident Ragheb Aqel, 41, told AFP.
On Wednesday, Hamas claimed that seven hostages “including three holders of foreign passports” had been killed in this bombing.
The Israeli army, for its part, confirmed on Tuesday that it had successfully targeted Ibrahim Biari, presented as one of those responsible for the October 7 attack, who was in “a vast complex of underground tunnels from where he directed operations.”
“A large number of terrorists who were with Biari were killed,” said Jonathan Conricus, the spokesperson for the Israeli forces.
Saudi Arabia condemned “in the strongest possible terms” the bombing of Jabaliya. Qatar, involved in attempts to resolve the hostage crisis, denounced “a new massacre” and warned of operations likely to “undermine mediation efforts”.
Bolivia announced break diplomatic relations with Israel, to denounce “its disproportionate […] offensive”, according to her. Chile and Colombia have announced that they are recalling their ambassadors to Tel Aviv.
The war has also exacerbated tensions in the occupied West Bank, where at least 125 Palestinians have been killed since October 7 by soldier fire or Israeli settlers, according to the Palestinian Authority's Ministry of Health.
As warnings multiply against a regional conflagration, the Houthi rebels in Yemen, close to Iran, have launched several missiles against Israel on Tuesday – which the Israeli army announced that it had intercepted – and promised to continue their attacks.