Attacks delay evacuation of Filipinos in Gaza — DFA
November 5, 2023 | 12:16pm
MANILA, Philippines — The evacuation of foreigners, including Filipinos, from the Gaza Strip to Egypt has been delayed due to attacks, the Department of Foreign Affairs said.
The first batch of Filipinos who had decided to leave the war-torn Gaza was scheduled to cross into Egypt Sunday. However, the evacuation of foreign passport holders did not proceed due to recent attacks, Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Eduardo de Vega said in an interview with Teleradyo Serbisyo.
According to De Vega, Israel claimed that Hamas attacked the border, while the Palestinian militant group has accused Israel of targeting convoys en route to the border.
To return to the Philippines, Filipino nationals need to enter Egypt through the Rafah crossing and travel to capital Cairo.
The first group of Filipino evacuees may be able to enter Egypt by Monday. The second batch of Filipinos is scheduled to exit Gaza in the next few days.
Gaza’s Hamas government suspended the evacuation of foreigners to Egypt Saturday after Israel refused to allow some wounded Palestinians to be transferred to Egyptian hospitals, Agence France-Presse reported.
An Egyptian security force also told AFP that the evacuation was suspended “after the bombing of ambulances transporting injured people who were on their way to the Egyptian terminal.” The Israeli army announced Friday that it had struck an ambulance outside Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza, claiming it was “used by a Hamas terrorist cell.”
Some 115 Filipinos in Gaza expressed their intention to leave, but only 46 remain committed to being repatriated because many of them do not want to leave their Palestinian spouses.
De Vega said that the authority to permit individuals to leave Gaza and enter Egypt lies with the governments of Israel and Egypt. He added that the Philippine Embassy in Tel Aviv is requesting the Israeli government to allow Palestinian spouses of Filipinos to leave the enclave.
“Ngayon, kinukumbinsi lahat ng Filipino na mas mabuting tumawid na habang ngayon may permission. Mababalikan naman nila ang kanilang mga asawa kapag tapos na ang giyera,” de Vega said.
(All Filipinos there are being convinced to cross into Egypt while there’s permission. They can return to their spouses once the war is over.)
Israel launched a war against Hamas in Gaza following the October 7 attacks which claimed 1,400 lives, mostly civilians.
The intense air, land and sea attacks on Gaza by Israeli forces have killed nearly 9,500 Palestinians, including 3,900 children.