As people waited at the Rafah crossing on Thursday in anticipation of the second day of evacuations from Gaza to Egypt, the sound of an airstrike shook the crowd, and a piece of shrapnel appeared to fall in the area.
The explosion was just another sign that the journey to safety was for many one of the most dangerous endeavors they had undertaken in Gaza.
“Arriving at the Rafah crossing was the most dangerous trip in my entire life,” Alaa Al-Husseini, 61, an Austrian citizen who was evacuated on Wednesday, wrote in a text message from the bus that took him from Rafah to Cairo.
In a phone call on Thursday after his arrival in Cairo, he said that he was unable to find any taxis or people to take him to the border due to the lack of fuel in the Gaza Strip, and because the phones did not work. In the end, he found a ride, but he and the driver felt terrified while driving from central Gaza through the empty streets of the Strip.
Mr. Al-Husseini said that he fears that his mere presence next to a place that Israel considers a Hamas target will lead to his death. “You could get collateral damage at any time,” he said. “I was scared to death.”
The Gaza Border Crossing Authority published the names of about 600 foreign citizens that it said would be allowed to leave through the Rafah crossing on Thursday. The list included 400 Americans, in addition to people from Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Belgium, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Mexico, the Netherlands, South Korea, Sri Lanka and Switzerland.
Hisham Adwan, spokesman for the Rafah crossing in Gaza, said that more than 340 foreign citizens crossed the crossing on Thursday, accompanied by 21 wounded and 21 others accompanying them. He added that in addition, 45 aid trucks crossed into the devastated enclave.
The numbers of people crossing were similar to those of the previous day, when 361 foreign nationals entered Egypt, and ambulances carried 45 seriously injured Palestinians, along with some of their family members, to Egyptian hospitals, according to Cairo Channel, an Egyptian state-owned company. . TV channel.
Images from Gaza on Thursday showed dozens of people waiting at the crossing, and Egyptian television showed people pushing luggage carts on the other side of the checkpoint.
Mr. Al-Husseini said that the scene at the border was chaotic. He said officers were processing names manually, and people who were not among the hundreds of people allowed out were among the crowds, some of whom were trying to leave.
Sometimes, family members of those who were able to evacuate were prevented from leaving, because they did not have foreign citizenship or the necessary documents, forcing people to make difficult decisions.
Adala Abu Madin, a Palestinian with Egyptian citizenship, went to the crossing on Thursday with her sister Dalal and her 6-year-old daughter Maha, both of whom hold American citizenship, said. But she said that when they arrived at the crossing they were told that her niece could not leave.
“We only want one thing: Help us leave Gaza,” Ms. Abu Madin said.
It was not clear what caused the disruption, and the US Embassy in Cairo did not immediately respond to a request for clarification.
About 400 Americans in Gaza have expressed a desire to leave, but the government will also help their family members who want to flee, totaling about 1,000 people, State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said Wednesday. However, some names were not on the list on Thursday.
Mukhaymar Abu Saada (58 years old), associate professor of political science at Al-Azhar University in Gaza, was accompanying his two sons, both in their twenties, at the Rafah crossing on Thursday. He said they had US citizenship, but he was not allowed to leave because he only had a US green card. His wife and three other children are not American and will remain there as well.
He hopes everyone will eventually be able to get out. He added: “The situation is beyond disaster and beyond even imagination.” “Death, bombing and bloodshed.”
Lina Bseiso, 57 years old, an American who came to the crossing repeatedly to find it closed, was finally traveling through it with her family on Thursday. But her feelings were bittersweet.
“It is so sad that we have to leave all these innocent people behind,” she said in a voice message.
Iyad Abu Huwaila, Vivian Yee And Anna Bates Contributed to reports.
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