Egypt says to help evacuate 'about 7,000' Gaza foreign nationals
November 2, 2023 06:24 PM
Egypt will help evacuate "about 7,000" foreigners and dual nationals from the war-ravaged Gaza Strip, the foreign ministry said, with officials saying some 400 people were expected to cross Thursday.
For the first time after weeks of deadly fighting between Israel and Palestinian militants, the Rafah border crossing opened on Wednesday to let people out of Gaza.
In a meeting with foreign diplomats, assistant foreign minister Ismail Khairat said Egypt was preparing "to facilitate the reception and evacuation of foreign citizens from Gaza through the Rafah crossing", a ministry statement said.
Khairat said that involved "about 7,000" people of "more than 60" nationalities, but the statement offered no specific details or a timeline.
Thursday's first group of evacuees began arriving in Egypt, a border official told AFP.
"Four hundred people holding foreign passports are expected to cross today in addition to 60 wounded," said the official on the Egyptian side of the Rafah crossing, indicating the figures may fluctuate during the day.
The crossing's Gaza director Hisham Adwan said about 100 wounded people and 400 foreigners and dual nationals, including US citizens, were expected to cross on Thursday.
The Egyptian official said a total of 361 foreigners and dual nationals entered Egypt on Wednesday, revising an earlier figure of 335.
And he clarified the figure of wounded brought into Egypt for treatment. Officials had initially said 76 wounded Palestinians were evacuated, but the official explained that number included 46 patients and 30 people accompanying them.
Among the foreign and dual nations who crossed on Wednesday were 31 Austrians, four Italians, five French nationals and some Germans, their governments said.
State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said US citizens had also crossed from Gaza but declined to give a number.
The Hamas-run health ministry has said intense Israeli bombardment has killed nearly 8,800 people in Gaza, two-thirds of them women and children, since the fighting erupted after the October 7 attacks that Israeli officials say left 1,400 people dead.