In a pivotal development, Egypt is poised to provide medical assistance to numerous wounded Palestinians from Gaza, marking a beacon of hope amid the weeks of relentless warfare. This assistance comes as anticipation grows that the Rafah crossing, the sole exit point from the beleaguered enclave not under Israeli control, may soon open to facilitate the evacuation of foreign nationals who have been trapped in the region.
Gaza’s border authority revealed that Egypt had granted permission to admit 81 of the most severely wounded individuals on Wednesday. This decision follows the unyielding Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip, which, according to the Hamas-run health ministry, has claimed the lives of more than 8,500 people, including over 3,500 children.
The series of airstrikes on Gaza was initiated following a significant event on October 7th when Hamas militants infiltrated southern Israel, resulting in the tragic loss of 1,400 lives, the majority of whom were civilians, as reported by Israeli authorities.
A photographer with the AFP news agency noted that a substantial number of ambulances had congregated at the Rafah crossing on Tuesday. Additionally, a medical official in the Egyptian city of El Arish informed the news agency that medical teams would be stationed at the crossing to assess cases and determine the suitable hospitals for treatment. Furthermore, a field hospital spanning an area of 1,300 square meters is slated to be established in the city of Sheikh Zuweid in northern Sinai, approximately 15 kilometers from Rafah, to accommodate the injured Palestinians.
In parallel efforts, the United States has made substantial progress in negotiations to secure a secure passage for hundreds of American citizens and other foreign nationals seeking to depart from Gaza, as conveyed by US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller. Miller expressed the hope that any agreement to evacuate individuals would also extend to encompass American citizens and their families, along with other foreign nationals.
Miller also affirmed that once actionable information is available, the United States will promptly inform its citizens in Gaza to make their way to Rafah.
This collaborative endeavor has seen the United States collaborate with Qatar and Egypt to open the Rafah border crossing, facilitating the exodus of American citizens. Up to this point, traffic at Rafah has been reinstated in one direction, allowing a restricted number of aid trucks to enter Gaza.
Tzachi Hanegbi, the chief of Israel’s national security council, disclosed ongoing discussions with Egypt regarding the injured. Nevertheless, differences persist regarding the volume of aid deliveries, with Egypt advocating for the entry of more trucks into Gaza, while Israel maintains that it can only inspect a limited number of vehicles daily. The United States, with its commitment to humanitarian considerations, aspires to see 100 trucks a day transit through Rafah.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is slated to visit Israel on Friday to engage in discussions with government officials and embark on other diplomatic initiatives within the region.
Reports indicating the prospective opening of the Rafah crossing emerged shortly after an Israeli strike targeted the largest refugee camp in Gaza, resulting in the tragic loss of at least 50 lives, as indicated by the health ministry.
At least six airstrikes struck residential areas within the Jabalia refugee camp, located on the outskirts of Gaza City on Tuesday. The Israeli military clarified that its objective was to neutralize Ibrahim Biari, a key Hamas commander linked to the group’s October 7th assault on Israel. The Israeli military asserted that Biari had commandeered civilian structures in Gaza City with his fighters.
On Tuesday, Egypt issued a stern condemnation of the strike on the Jabalia camp, emphasizing the gravity of these indiscriminate attacks that target defenseless civilians.
Early Wednesday morning, Paltel, a Palestinian telecommunications company, reported a complete disruption of communications and internet services in Gaza, resulting from an international access disconnection. This communication blackout had previously been initiated on Friday but was later restored.