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Limited Gaza evacuations via Rafah to be allowed after Qatar brokers deal

November 1, 2023 3:52 PM IST

Israel | Egypt | Hamas | Gaza | Palestine | Qatar | Rafah crossing

Qatar has mediated an agreement between Egypt, Israel and Hamas, in coordination with the U.S., which will allow limited evacuations from besieged Gaza, a source briefed on the deal told Reuters on Wednesday.

The agreement would allow foreign passport holders and some critically injured people to leave through the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza, though there is no timeline for how long it will remain open for evacuation, the source added.

The deal is not linked to other issues under negotiation such as hostages held by Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist group that governs Gaza, or pauses designed to ease a humanitarian crisis in the enclave which is suffering from food, water, fuel and medical shortages, the source said.

Israel sent its forces into Gaza following weeks of air bombardments in retaliation for a major attack by Iran-backed Hamas on Oct 7.

Hamas has told mediators it will soon release some of the 200 or so foreign captives it had seized during the attack on Israel, Abu Ubaida, the spokesperson of the group’s armed wing, al-Qassam Brigades, said in a video on the Telegram app on Tuesday. He gave no further detail on the number of captives or their nationalities.

Egypt has prepared a field hospital in Sheikh Zuwayed in the Sinai, according to medical sources. Ten ambulances were sent to Rafah on Tuesday in anticipation.

Israel besieged Gaza after the Hamas attack, and the U.N. and other aid officials have said civilians in the enclave are living in a public health catastrophe, with hospitals struggling to treat casualties as electricity supplies peter out.

On Wednesday, communications and internet services were completely cut off in the enclave again, Gaza’s largest telecommunications provider Paltel said.

Israel has vowed to annihilate Hamas after several inconclusive wars dating back to the militant group’s 2007 takeover of Gaza. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has dismissed international calls for a “humanitarian pause” in fighting to enable emergency aid deliveries to civilians.


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