First foreigners leave Gaza through Rafah crossing

November 1, 2023

Hundreds of people holding foreign passports began leaving Gaza through the Rafah border crossing into Egypt on Wednesday for the first time since Israel declared war on Hamas following the terrorist organization’s massive October 7 surprise attack.

Five American aid workers were among those who passed through Rafah—the only border crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip. Some of the wounded trapped in Gaza were also allowed passage. 

The opening for foreigners to escape the war Israel and Hamas are waging inside Gaza came roughly a week after Egypt allowed the first humanitarian aid trucks access through Rafah into Gaza.

However, Egypt had been reluctant to open the Rafah gates to civilians, even those with foreign passports, because both Egypt and Jordan which borders the West Bank have declared a “red line” against relocating Palestinian refugees into their countries, amid concerns that the Israeli-Hamas war may trigger a new wave of permanent displacement in the region.

Video shows the first foreigners, some carrying luggage though many without, pouring through the gates of Rafah early Wednesday. 

Some 545 foreigners and dual nationals along with dozens of sick and wounded were expected to leave Wednesday. 

The American aid workers known to have left work for the Palestinian Children’s Relief Fund, Catholic Relief Services and Doctors Without Borders. However, it was unclear Wednesday exactly how many others among the 400 or so U.S. citizens stuck in Gaza, according to the State Department, have also fled through Rafah. 

“A handful of Americans are expected to depart today, and we expect to get more to come in future days,” National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby told reporters Wednesday afternoon.

Meanwhile in Gaza, the United Nations Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA) in Gaza said Monday that more than 670,000 people have been internally displaced and are sheltering in 150 of its overflowing shelters. 

“They live in appalling, unsanitary conditions, with limited food and water, sleeping on the floor without mattresses, or outside, in the open,” UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini said during a video conference from Jordan.

PHOTO: Rafah border crossing, Wednesday morning

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