Rafah crossing to allow foreigners out as Gazans flee their homes
Updated 21:12, 14-Oct-2023

Egypt, Israel and the United States have agreed to allow foreigners in Gaza to pass through the Rafah border crossing into Egypt, AP reported on Saturday, citing a senior Egyptian official.

The official said that Israel has agreed to refrain from striking areas the foreigners would pass through on their way out of the besieged Palestinian territory, adding that Qatar was also involved in the negotiations and the participants also received approval from the Palestinian militant groups, Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

A second official at the Egyptian side of the Rafah crossing point said they received "instructions" to reopen it on Saturday afternoon for foreigners coming from Gaza.

The first official said negotiations were still underway to allow the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza through the crossing point.

Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief media.

The closed gates of the Rafah border crossing with Egypt, October 10, 2023. /CFP
The closed gates of the Rafah border crossing with Egypt, October 10, 2023. /CFP

The closed gates of the Rafah border crossing with Egypt, October 10, 2023. /CFP

The only crossing for foreigners to leave Gaza

The Rafah crossing is the main exit point for the Gaza Strip's 2.3 million residents that is not controlled by Israel. Israel and Egypt have upheld a blockade on the enclave, controlling the movement of goods and people since Hamas took control in 2007.

The crossing has been closed since Tuesday after Israeli bombardments hit on the Palestinian side, according to officials in Gaza and Egyptian sources.

Israel's military spokesperson said on Saturday that the border remains closed and any crossing to Egypt needed to be coordinated with Israel.

After last Saturday's Hamas attack, Israel has closed several crossings. Among them, the Erez crossing, located in the north of the Gaza Strip, is Gaza's lone pedestrian pathway into Israel and is under full Israeli control.

And the Kerem Shalom crossing - which is sometimes used as an alternative to Rafah for the delivery of humanitarian goods and other supplies from Egypt, was also closed after the attack.

Other crossings including Karni and Sufa were closed previously, according to The Washington Post.


Second evacuation warning

While the last viable crossing for people fleeing Gaza is ready to reopen for the first time in days to allow foreigners out, the mass evacuation of Palestinians from the northern Gaza Strip is still ongoing.

On Saturday, the Israeli military issued a second warning to Gaza residents, urging them to evacuate to the southern part of the coastal enclave and not to delay their departure.

The spokesman for the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) Daniel Hagari issued the warning and warned residents of the coastal enclave ruled by Hamas not to get close to the border with Israel, saying they would be "risking death."

In addition, Israel has designated two safe routes for more than one million residents of northern Gaza to leave for the south of the blockaded territory.

Israeli military spokesman Richard Hecht said there is a safe passage "window" between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on the roads, down the Gaza coast and through the center of the narrow Palestinian territory, which is about 40 kilometers long.

Many residents in northern Gaza are thinking of ways to flee their homes, reported China Media Group reporter Chen Huihui, adding that the situation in southern Gaza is very dire at present as residents living there can only have two or three hours of electricity and drinking water is running out. 

Saturday marked the 8th day of the war between Hamas and Israel.

Read more:

Latest developments in Palestinian-Israeli conflict on day eight

(With input from agencies)

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