Palestinian youngsters medically evacuated from Gaza | EUROtoday

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JERUSALEM — A gaggle of sick youngsters and their companions left the Gaza Strip on Thursday within the territory’s first medical evacuation since an Israeli offensive shuttered the Rafah crossing with Egypt final month.

The effort was coordinated by Israel, Egypt, the United States and different worldwide companions, the Israeli army mentioned in a press release. It got here after weeks of mounting strain on Israel to permit susceptible Palestinians to go away the enclave, the place a months-long battle has decimated the health-care system.

The convoy included 21 youngsters, most of whom are most cancers sufferers, mentioned Mohammed Zaqout, the pinnacle of Gaza’s hospital community.

“They are at risk of death due to a lack of treatment and necessary health care,” he mentioned at a information convention outdoors the Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis, a metropolis in southern Gaza.


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Humanitarian teams say they hope the evacuation — from Gaza to Israel’s Kerem Shalom crossing and onward to Egypt — will pave the way in which for a brand new route for critically sick and wounded Palestinians searching for medical care overseas. But it remained unclear precisely the place the sufferers could be handled or whether or not Israeli authorities had been planning for extra evacuees.

“We are so happy, but we don’t know the next step,” Souad al-Qanou, 26, mentioned by way of WhatsApp. She left Gaza along with her two sons, 8-year-old Ahmed and Amjad, who’s 6. Ahmed suffers from testicular most cancers and Amjad, who has a kidney situation, is malnourished from the battle.

“We still worry,” she mentioned Thursday as they made their option to Egypt. “And hope they can do anything to save our kids.”

Israel seized the Rafah crossing final month because it ready for a wider offensive within the metropolis. Officials mentioned the operation was essential to stamp out Hamas, which attacked Israel on Oct. 7, killing round 1,200 individuals and abducting greater than 250 others.

Since then, the Israeli army has destroyed a lot of Gaza, in a battle that has killed greater than 37,000 individuals, in keeping with the Gaza Health Ministry, which doesn’t distinguish between civilians and combatants however says nearly all of the useless are ladies and youngsters.

The Rafah terminal was the one method out for sick or injured Palestinians. Some who wanted specialised care, together with chemotherapy, have already died whereas ready for permission to hunt therapy overseas. As of May 7, when the crossing closed, 4,895 Palestinians had been medically evacuated, in keeping with information from the World Health Organization.

Now, the WHO estimates a minimum of 10,000 individuals have to be medevaced from the territory, in keeping with Rik Peeperkorn, the group’s consultant for the West Bank and Gaza.

“And that is an underestimation,” he mentioned at a information convention Wednesday. “We need all routes to make this happen. And that is why we plead, we request to open the Rafah crossing and make sure there can be organized medevac into Egypt.”

Israel, Egypt and the United States began talks to reopen Rafah, which can also be important for assist deliveries. But to date, little progress has been made and the combating has left the crossing broken and burned.

But entry to Kerem Shalom additionally stays troublesome, and COGAT, the Israeli Defense Ministry unit chargeable for civilian affairs in Gaza, didn’t reply when requested whether or not they supposed to permit extra Palestinians to go away via the crossing.

Kerem Shalom, on the Israel-Gaza border about 2.5 miles east of Rafah, was constructed for the motion of products, not individuals. And unpredictable combating and the looting of assist vans are hindering entry on the Gaza facet, reduction teams say.

Israel ought to have “already made plans for this kind of thing,” earlier than the army invaded Rafah, mentioned Tania Hary, director of the Israeli rights group, Gisha, which advocates for the liberty of motion of Palestinians in Gaza.

She referred to as it an “unbelievable state of affairs,” but in addition mentioned the evacuation Thursday was “sort of a test run to see how a mechanism like this might work.”

Once the group of sufferers was authorized, the journey took days to finish, in keeping with those that traveled with the youngsters. It began with a cellphone name to some households late Saturday in northern Gaza, telling them to organize to go away for the southern a part of the territory, the place they might meet with the opposite sufferers on the Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis.

The WHO coordinated their motion, however on Sunday, as they traveled south, Israeli troopers stopped the convoy for a number of hours at a checkpoint, in keeping with Qanou and two different moms accompanying their youngsters. They lastly reached Nasser Hospital, anticipating to go away the subsequent day. But days and nights handed and so they ended up sleeping on blankets on the hospital ground.

“Since the first day of the war, I have been trying to get her out of the Gaza Strip, and every time my attempts fail,” Samira Al-Saidi, 23, mentioned Sunday of her 6-year-old daughter, Juri, who has most cancers. “I do not wish any mother in the world to experience the feelings that I am experiencing now. Every day I see her health condition deteriorating.”

But late on Wednesday, the group was informed they might be leaving the subsequent morning. The journey would finally take all day, in keeping with Qanou, who mentioned they weren’t fed till they reached Egypt within the night, the place authorities mentioned they might be transferred to a hospital in Al-Arish within the Sinai Peninsula.

“The way patients are leaving is difficult and complicated,” mentioned Zaqout, the Gaza well being official. “This method has not and will not be an alternative to the Rafah crossing.”

Harb reported from London.