Israel-Gaza: Rafah border crossing opens for foreign citizens to leave Gaza – but no UK nationals among them

Around 500 foreign nationals and 80 injured Palestinans are likely to be allowed to leave

More than 300 foreign nationals are believed to have crossed the border from Gaza into Egypt as the Rafah crossing opened for the first time in weeks.

However, Humza Yousaf’s parents in law still remain in Gaza, where they are said to be without access to clean drinking water.

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The first minister’s office said he had been told British citizens are not on the initial list of countries whose nationals are able to leave Gaza.

The Rafah crossing has been closed to all but a small number of aid trucks since the conflict broke out on 7 October.The Rafah crossing has been closed to all but a small number of aid trucks since the conflict broke out on 7 October.
The Rafah crossing has been closed to all but a small number of aid trucks since the conflict broke out on 7 October.

The crossing, which is the only Gaza border with a country other than Israel, opened for a first group of overseas nationals this morning – as well as a small number of injured people from Gaza.

The evacuation comes as Israel’s bombardment of Gaza continues. The health ministry in Gaza said on Wednesday that 8,796 people have been killed since 7 October - an increase of 271 since Tuesday.

News reports from Gaza claimed a second wave of Israeli airstrikes had hit the Jabaliya camp near Gaza City, where dozens of people were killed on Tuesday.

Reports earlier today said two UK nationals were on the list of people allowed to cross – but on a separate list of aid workers, rather than part of the group of general citizens. It is expected people from other countries, including the UK, will be added to lists later in the week.

Humza Yousaf said his wife's parents are not on the initial list of citizens able to leave.Humza Yousaf said his wife's parents are not on the initial list of citizens able to leave.
Humza Yousaf said his wife's parents are not on the initial list of citizens able to leave.

Mr Yousaf’s wife, Nadia’s, parents, who live in Dundee, were visiting family in Gaza when the bombardments began.

The first minister’s spokesperson said: “We welcome that the Rafah crossing looks set to be opened for a number of foreign nationals. This is obviously a developing situation, but our understanding at this stage is that UK nationals are not at present included in this initial list of countries whose nationals can cross.

“The First Minister has been in contact with the Foreign Secretary this morning. We continue to liaise with the UK government and urge them to work with the Egyptian authorities so that all UK nationals can urgently leave Gaza as quickly as possible.”

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He added: "The First Minister's wife, Nadia, spoke to her mother this morning. The family remains trapped in Gaza, without clean drinking water, and rapidly diminishing supplies.”

Reports have claimed that around 500 foreign citizens will be able to cross the border today, as well as 80 to 90 injured Palestinians. It is estimated there are about 7,000 people registered as dual nationals in Gaza. The deal to allow the evacuation was negotiated late on Tuesday, involving Israel, Egypt, Hamas, the United States and Qatar.

The UK Foreign Office has said the departure of British nationals from Gaza "will take place in stages over the coming days".

In a post on X, formerly Twitter, UK foreign secretary James Cleverly said: “The Rafah crossing is likely to open today for a first group of foreign nationals. UK teams are ready to assist British nationals as soon as they are able to leave.

“It’s vital that lifesaving humanitarian aid can enter Gaza as quickly as possible.”

Images have shown families with bags gathering at the crossing in hope that they will be allowed to leave.

It is understood that a list has been compiled, made up mainly of Jordanians, however other nationalities include Austrians, Japanese, Bulgarians, Indonesians, and Australians.

There are said to be two British people on the list, included in a separate section for NGO workers.

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The list says the foreign nationals had to arrive at 7am local time in the outdoor hall of the crossing.

Meanwhile, an Egyptian field hospital has been built in Sheikh Zuweid, Egypt, near the Rafah border crossing, to treat injured Gazans. Ambulances have been reported to have left Egypt and crossed into Gaza, ready to collect patients.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) said it had been working to support the Egyptian Ministry of Health and Population in planning and establishing a comprehensive triage, stabilisation, and medical evacuation system.

The UK has a Border Force team in Cairo, with consular officials in Arish, near Rafah, to provide support for Britons who leave Gaza.

Hamas’s military wing al-Qassam Brigades claimed that seven hostages taken from Israel – including two “foreign passport holders” had been killed in Tuesday’s strike on the Jabalia refugee camp. Israel has insisted it was targeting a Hamas commander and tunnels in the attack which killed dozens of people and injured many more.

It said the attack had killed dozens of militants, including a senior Hamas commander involved in the militants’ attacks on Israel on 7 October that ignited the war, and destroyed militant tunnels beneath the buildings.

The Israeli military confirmed on Wednesday that nine soldiers have been killed in fighting in northern Gaza, bringing the total number of soldiers killed since the start of the ground operation to 11.

Labour called for the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) to set up an appeal for the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, matched by taxpayer funding.

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Shadow foreign secretary David Lammy and shadow cabinet development minister Lisa Nandy were in Cairo for talks about the crisis.

Mr Lammy said: "There is an urgent need to alleviate humanitarian suffering in Gaza and a DEC appeal with government backing would help galvanise the public's efforts to help those in need.

"We must also begin to plan for the large-scale reconstruction that will be required for the people of Gaza to live in peace and dignity. In the long term, there can only be a political solution based on a two-state solution."



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