Evacuations from Gaza Strip resume through Egypt’s Rafah crossing

CAIRO (Reuters) -Evacuations from the Gaza Strip into Egypt for foreign passport holders and Palestinians needing medical treatment resumed through the Rafah crossing on Thursday after being suspended for a day, Egyptian security and medical sources said.

Departures from Rafah, the only crossing to the besieged enclave that does not border Israel, had been paused on Wednesday for a second time following bombardments on the route within Gaza leading to the border.

The Red Cross said its convoy escorting medical evacuees on Tuesday had been targeted, prompting it to pause the escorts.

On Thursday, two sources said that 695 foreign passport holders and dependents, including Egyptians, were able to cross. Twelve medical evacuees and 10 companions entered Egypt, the sources said.

Evacuations from Gaza through Rafah began on Nov. 1 for an estimated 7,000 foreign passport holders, dual nationals and their dependents, as well as a limited number of people needing urgent medical treatment.

U.S. Special Envoy David Satterfield told reporters he hoped evacuations through Rafah would become easier with four-hour humanitarian pauses that the U.S. said on Thursday Israel agreed upon.

Rafah is also the only entry point for humanitarian aid going into Gaza. On Wednesday, 106 trucks carrying food medicines and water crossed into Gaza, bringing the total number of aid trucks that have entered since Oct. 21 to 756, according to the United Nations.

On Thursday, three sources said about 100 trucks entered.

Before the war in Gaza erupted on Oct. 7, an average of more than 400 trucks carrying aid and other supplies were entering Gaza daily.

Aid officials have said at least 100 truckloads are needed daily to meet growing humanitarian needs, and that deliveries have been hampered by a cumbersome inspection system and security challenges distributing the aid.

Satterfield said 150 trucks daily would meet the bare minimum for “survival humanitarian assistance”.

(Reporting by Yusri Mohamed and Ahmed Mohamed Hassan; Writing by Aidan Lewis; Editing by Alex Richardson, Barbara Lewis and Cynthia Osterman)