Dozens of wounded Palestinians left the Gaza Strip, subject to incessant shelling by the Israeli army, by ambulance for treatment in Egypt on Wednesday, and hundreds of nationals and foreigners will follow, a first in the war between Israel and Hamas.
The announcement, a rare positive development in 26 days of war, was made to AFP by an Egyptian official on condition of anonymity around 5:30 am EDT. Egyptian television broadcast live the entry of these vehicles through the Egyptian side of the Rafah terminal, the only opening to the world in the Gaza Strip, where the humanitarian situation is considered catastrophic for the 2.4 million inhabitants who crowd there.
Egyptian caregivers and first responders moved the injured Palestinians and examined them before taking them on stretchers to Egyptian ambulances. At least two children were visible in those ambulances, one of whom had a large bandage on his abdomen, as well as a woman lying on a stretcher, according to television footage.
On the Palestinian side of the border, an AFP reporter saw at least 40 ambulances, each carrying two injured people, heading for the high-security terminal.
The wounded will be transferred, according to Egyptian television, to a field hospital in Cheikh Zoueid, about ten kilometers from Rafah, as well as to Al-Arich, capital of the province of North Sinai and, for the most critical cases, to the Cairo hospitals.
Egypt insists that the nearly 90 injured people allowed to cross on Wednesday are leaving Gaza before the roughly 545 nationals and foreigners apparently allowed to leave.
The administration of the Palestinian side of the crossing published a list with their names, nationality and passport number.
Hamas Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra told AFP that its services had sent Egypt a list of 4,000 wounded who needed care that could not be provided in Gaza.
“Have mercy on us”
The Palestinian territory of about 360 km2 has been subjected to a “total siege” since October 9, depriving its bloodless population of supplies of water, food and electricity.
According to COGAT, the Israeli Defense Ministry body that monitors civilian activities in the Palestinian Territories, 70 humanitarian aid trucks entered Gaza on Tuesday. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported that 143 trucks entered between October 21 and Monday evening, but insisted that much more massive aid was absolutely needed.
On Wednesday morning, inside the terminal, in AFPTV footage, we could still see families carrying their personal belongings and some injured people in wheelchairs.
“We are overwhelmed. Have mercy on us. We are Egyptians and we can’t even get to our country,” said Oum Youssef, a dual national still present on the Palestinian side. “Let us pass. We are exhausted. We can’t sleep or eat.”
11 Israeli soldiers were killed on Tuesday
The agreement implemented Wednesday between Egypt, Hamas and Israel, and obtained under the mediation of Qatar in coordination with the United States, according to a diplomatic source, is a rare clarification since October 7.
According to Israeli authorities, at least 1,400 people were killed in Israel, most of them civilians and most of them on the day of this attack of unprecedented scale and violence perpetrated by Hamas.
In the Gaza Strip, led by the Islamist movement, nearly 8,800 Palestinians have been killed since October 7 in massive bombings by the Israeli army, according to a new report released Wednesday midday by Hamas. Thousands more have been injured and hospitals in the territory are overwhelmed, sometimes operating “on the ground”.
After a first phase of its response focused on these massive bombings, Israel, which wants to “annihilate” Hamas, has also pledged, since Friday, to send an increasing number of tanks and soldiers to the northern Strip Gaza, where a fierce terrain. the fight now pits him against Hamas fighters amid the ruins.
On Wednesday, the Israeli army announced the death of 11 soldiers the day before, bringing to 326 the number of its soldiers killed since the start of the war. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded by promising “victory” despite “painful losses.”
On Monday and Tuesday, the Israeli military claimed to have killed “dozens” of Hamas fighters. The Palestinian Islamist movement has not provided any assessment of its losses.
In the Palestinian territory, according to Israeli authorities, at least 240 hostages, kidnapped during the October 7 attack, are still in the hands of Hamas, which Israel, the United States and the European Union consider a “terrorist” organization.
As their loved ones, in Israel and abroad, live in anguish over their fate, Hamas’s military wing said Tuesday it was ready to release “a number of foreigners in the coming days.”
On Wednesday, Hamas claimed that seven hostages, “including three foreign passport holders”, had been killed the day before in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza’s largest refugee camp, Jabaliya. This claim was immediately unverifiable from an independent source.
According to Israel, this bombing made it possible to “eliminate” a senior Hamas leader, Ibrahim Biari, presented as one of those responsible for the October 7 attack and who was in “a vast complex of underground tunnels.”
But it caused “dozens of deaths and hundreds of injuries,” according to Hamas’ Health Ministry.
AFPTV video showed at least 47 bodies lying on the ground in a hospital courtyard after being pulled from the rubble.
“It was an earthquake scene,” Ragheb Aqel, 41, a resident of the camp, told AFP.
RSF takes over the ICC
Denouncing a “new massacre”, Qatar, involved in attempts to resolve the hostage crisis, warned against operations that could “undermine mediation efforts”.
Bolivia announced that it would break its diplomatic relations with Israel, to denounce “its disproportionate (…) offensive”, according to him. Chile and Colombia have announced that they are recalling their ambassadors to Tel Aviv.
The war, which threatens a regional conflagration, has also exacerbated tensions in the occupied West Bank, where at least 125 Palestinians have been killed since October 7 by fire from Israeli soldiers or settlers, according to the Authority’s Health Ministry Palestine .
Journalists have also paid a high price since October 7. The NGO Reporters Without Borders (RSF) announced on Wednesday that it had been seized at the International Criminal Court (ICC) for “war crimes committed against journalists” in the Palestinian Territories and Israel.
According to RSF’s count, 34 journalists have been killed since the start of the war, including at least 12 in the line of duty (ten in Gaza, one in Israel and one in Lebanon).
To see on video