Rafah crossing re-opens for limited evacuations from Gaza

GAZA/CAIRO (Reuters) -Dozens of foreign passport holders and some medical evacuees passed through the Rafah crossing from Gaza into Egypt on Monday after evacuations resumed following a two-day suspension, three Egyptian security sources said.

The Gaza border authority had said earlier that Egyptians and foreign citizens already on pre-approved lists issued since last Wednesday would be allowed through the crossing, the only exit from Gaza that does not border Israel.

Passage of foreign nationals and dependents, as well as injured Gazans, had ceased on Saturday after an Israeli strike on an ambulance in Gaza, Egyptian officials said.

The flow of aid trucks, which enter Gaza through the crossing, had slowed to 25 trucks on Sunday from a high of 102 trucks on Thursday, according to U.N. data.

After evacuations resumed on Monday about 80 dual nationals and 17 medical evacuees had left through Rafah by early evening, with 48 aid trucks crossing in the other direction, according to the Egyptian security sources.

Egypt had been seeking guarantees for the safety of ambulances used for evacuations, including escorts from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), they said.

“Any effort to get convoys of ambulances carrying wounded to Rafah crossing must be accompanied by ICRC and UN vehicles to protect them and so they don’t get bombed as happened with the last convoy,” said the Hamas-run government media office.

The ICRC said it had escorted a four-ambulance convoy of patients from the al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City to the Rafah border on Monday.

Palestinian authorities had been publishing lists of people approved for evacuation by Egyptian and Israeli authorities beginning on Nov. 1 until Saturday.

Israel has thus far refused to allow fuel, which is needed for water supplies, hospital generators and aid distribution, to enter Gaza from Egypt.

(Reporting by Nidal Al-Mughrabi in Gaza, Ahmed Mohamed Hassan in Cairo, Yusri Mohamed in Ismailia; writing by Nafisa Eltahir and Aidan Lewis; Editing by David Goodman, Tomasz Janowski and Sharon Singleton)