Hundreds of foreign passport holders and the wounded trapped in Gaza started leavingWednesday as the Rafah border crossing to Egypt opened to them for the first time since the A list of foreign passport holders who can leave Gaza via the Rafah crossing has been released by Gaza’s Hamas-controlled Interior Ministry.
At least five NGO workers who have been confirmed as Americans are listed as approved to cross on Wednesday but it remains to be seen how many of at least 400 American citizens the U.S. State Department says are stuck in Gaza will be able to across in coming days.
One American trapped in Gaza has told CBS News she does not expect to cross yet.
“They started letting foreigners out today but it’s not Americans because I guess we’re not as important as we thought,” Utah resident Susan Beseiso told CBS News on Wednesday.
“The American Embassy and the State Department haven’t called us since the last time we went to the border and got bombed four times. They haven’t been communicating with us or doing anything to get us out,” Beseiso said.
“It’s like they’re holding us hostages — not Hamas holding us hostages — it’s the IDF soldiers, Egypt and America. They’re using us as a human shield in a way.”
Footage showed the gate of the crossing on the Palestinian side of the border being opened Wednesday morning as people began to cross into Egypt for the first time sincebegan. Convoys of desperately needed aid have previously passed between but no people had been allowed through the Rafah crossing up until now.
Some 545 foreigners and dual nationals along with dozens of sick and wounded were expected to leave.
After being allowed into the terminal area, huge lines of those waiting to leave formed around crossing booths for checks on passports and other documents.
The first ambulances carrying wounded Palestinians from war-torn Gaza entered Egypt via the Rafah crossing on Wednesday, an Egyptian official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
CBS News producer Marwan Al Ghoul had previously reported on Tuesday that among those crossing will be at least 81 people the Egyptian government is letting travel in ambulances from Rafah to Arish for medical treatment.
The zone around the terminal for the Rafah border crossing has been hit during Israeli air raids after the Hamas attacks, which Israeli authorities say left 1,400 dead, mostly civilians. Another 240 people were taken hostage.
Some of those being taken out for treatment in Egyptian hospitals are among what the Hamas-controlled Gaza Health Ministry says are more than 15,000 wounded in retaliatory Israeli strikes, which the ministry says have killed more than 8,500 people, two-thirds of them women and children.
Meanwhile, internet watchdog Netblocks and major Palestinian operator Paltel said in social media posts Wednesday that all of the Gaza Strip was in the midst of another internet blackout.
A 48-hour communications blackout hit Gaza when Israel announced an expansion of its ground operation last week. Telecommunications were restored Monday, Paltel had said, before this latest blackout.
Abhinav Thawait is a globe-trotting correspondent with a passion for international affairs. With a background in international relations, he offers a global perspective on the most pressing issues around the world. Abhinav’s curiosity takes his to the far corners of the earth, where he seeks to share untold stories and diverse viewpoints.