More foreigners flee as death toll mounts in Gaza

GAZA: Hundreds more foreigners and dual nationals fled war-torn Gaza for Egypt Thursday as Zionist forces bombarded and fought ground battles in the besieged Palestinian territory, where thousands have died. Egypt said it eventually plans to help evacuate 7,000 foreigners through the Rafah crossing and a spokesman for the Palestinian side of the border post said about 100 had been able to leave Thursday.

A total of 400 foreign passport holders as well as 60 severely wounded Palestinians in ambulances were due to cross by the end of the second day of departures, Wael Abu Mohsen said, and Egyptian officials later reported the first arrivals. A list of those approved to travel Thursday shows hundreds of US citizens and 50 Belgians along with smaller numbers from various European, Arab, Asian and African countries.

“There was no food, no water, no gas, nowhere to take shelter,” said US passport holder Salma Shaath, 14, as she prepared to cross. “People were going to hospitals to sleep, there are a lot of martyrs, there is no Internet, no communications and no electricity. Our house was bombed … so we came here to Rafah.” The evacuation marks a tiny proportion of the 2.4 million people trapped in Gaza under weeks of bombardment.

Violence has also flared in the Zionist-occupied West Bank, where more than 130 Palestinians have died since Oct 7 according to the Palestinian health ministry. Three Palestinians were killed Thursday by Zionist fire in the West Bank, the ministry said, and a Zionist was killed in a Palestinian shooting attack. In embattled Gaza, more than 20,000 people are wounded, according to aid group Doctors Without Borders.

Ground battles flared again overnight in northern Gaza as Zionist troops have sought to destroy Hamas, the Islamist movement that controls the territory. The Zionist army is also seeking to free around 240 hostages captured by Hamas. Some 332 soldiers have already died since the Oct 7 attacks and in the Zionist offensive the Hamas assault triggered.

Global concern has risen sharply over the Zionist entity’s response, in which the army says it has struck more than 12,000 targets so far. The Gaza health ministry says more than 9,000 people have died, mostly women and children. Special concern has focused on repeated heavy strikes on Gaza’s largest refugee camp — densely populated Jabalia, north of Gaza City — where explosions brought down residential buildings.

Gaza’s Hamas-ruled government said 195 were killed in two days of Zionist strikes on Jabalia, with hundreds more missing and wounded. Hamas said seven of the estimated 242 captives it is holding died in Tuesday’s bombings. Major strikes also hit Gaza’s Bureij refugee camp and an area near a UN-run school in Jabalia, where the health ministry said 27 had died.

Outside the Al-Quds hospital in Gaza City, displaced residents seeking shelter from Zionist strikes told AFP that civilians would not withstand the barrage much longer. “This is not a life. We need a safe place for our kids,” said 50-year-old Hiyam Shamlakh. “Everybody is terrified, children, women and the elderly.” Talal Shamlakh, 65, said: “There have been missiles since 7:00 am around the hospital and we couldn’t sleep while children are screaming.” Another Gazan, Mahmoud Abu Jarad, said civilians would not be able to tolerate another week of strikes. “We demand a ceasefire. This is the most important thing,” the 30-year-old said.

AFP has witnessed rescuers desperately clawing through the rubble and twisted metal in frantic attempts to bring out survivors and bodies. Emergency responders say “whole families” have died. The wounded were rushed away by cart, motorcycle and ambulance as anguished wails and blaring sirens filled the dusty air. But Gaza’s hospitals have been overwhelmed and run short of medical supplies and even electricity.– AFP

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