Gaza government suspends evacuation of dual nationals and foreigners after Israel bombs ambulance convoy
The government in Gaza suspended the evacuation of foreigners and dual nationals to Egypt on Saturday following Israel’s refusal to allow injured Palestinians to be evacuated to Egyptian hospitals, a border official told AFP.
"No foreign passport holder will be able to leave the Gaza Strip until wounded people who need to be evacuated from hospitals in north Gaza are transported through the Rafah crossing" to Egypt, the official said on condition of anonymity.
An Egyptian security source further told AFP that "no injured person or foreign passport holder had arrived at the Egyptian Rafah crossing", further adding that movement stopped after Israel bombed an ambulance convoy and the outside of the al-Shifa hospital, killing 15.
Israel claims the ambulance convoy was carrying members of Hamas, but this was immediately denied by the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS), whose ambulance, carrying a critically injured woman, was targeted in the Israeli attack.
The PRCS took to social media to clarify that the convoy contained no Hamas fighters, and had been targeted twice by Israel.
This came after the US alleged that Hamas has been using medical evacuations to "sneak" its fighters out of Gaza – an unverified claim that even if true would not give Israel the right to attack medical vehicles, as rights groups have said.
The attack on the ambulance convoy was widely condemned by the leaders of the UN and the WHO.
On Wednesday, Egypt received the first group of wounded Palestinians as part of a tripartite agreement between Egypt, Israel, and Hamas, mediated by Qatar and coordinated with the United States.
The agreement stipulates the opening of the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza to admit dozens of critically wounded Palestinians, in addition to hundreds of foreign passport holders.
Egypt’s health minister Khaled Abdel Ghaffar said on Saturday that between 40-50 injured people from Gaza were being been admitted and treated in Egyptian hospitals per day.
Abdel Ghaffar said Egypt's healthcare system would be able to take in more of Gaza's wounded, if not for Israel blocking medical evacuees.