The initial individuals from a group of approximately 100 British citizens scheduled to depart Gaza on Friday have successfully entered Egypt, as there are worries about the possibility of those in the northern part of the Palestinian area reaching the southern Rafah border.
As of Friday, a total of 127 individuals were added to the UK’s evacuation list to be transported to Egypt. This comes after the crossing opened on Wednesday, over three weeks after the conflict started, resulting in numerous casualties among both Palestinians and Israelis. The group of evacuees included the parents-in-law of Scotland’s first minister, Humza Yousaf, who expressed that the past four weeks have been a harrowing experience for his wife’s family.
“We are happy to announce that Nadia’s parents were able to depart Gaza through the Rafah crossing this morning,” Yousaf stated. “While we are relieved for our personal situation, we are saddened by the ongoing struggles faced by the people of Gaza. We will continue to speak out against the violence and hardship endured by the innocent civilians in Gaza.”
The UK Foreign Office announced that the Rafah crossing will be accessible in limited and monitored intervals for the departure of certain groups of foreign citizens and those who are severely injured.
British citizens who were among the initial group to enter Egypt on Thursday reported the Rafah crossing as being in a state of disarray, and stated that they felt neglected by their government.
Hundreds of British citizens are currently stranded in Gaza, along with approximately 7,000 other foreign nationals who have been officially documented by their embassies and the Egyptian government.
According to The Guardian, there have been a few instances where people without proper documentation have managed to enter Egypt.
At 2am on Friday, Faras Abuwarda saw that his wife, five children, and cousins were included in the list of 127 UK evacuees, along with people from Italy, Germany, Indonesia, the US, and Mexico. However, Abuwarda’s family in Jabalia, located in northern Gaza, are still unsure about how they will make the trip to the south in order to cross.
Abuwarda, who traveled from London to Cairo to help his family for the second time since the conflict began, expressed his joy for them but also mentioned his concerns about their ability to cross. He explained that since yesterday, it has been difficult to find transportation options like taxis or private cars to take them to the south.
The family has been stuck in Jabalia for over three weeks, as the area has been continuously bombed, resulting in more than 195 deaths from nearby Israeli attacks.
Abuwarda mentioned that due to restrictions, only government vehicles were allowed to travel south. He reached out to the Foreign Office and aid organizations for help with transportation. However, the Foreign Office informed him that they could not provide any transportation or security, and the Israeli government would not allow his family to use their relative’s car to travel south.
As of Friday night, they were still in a state of anticipation.
Abuwarda, 47, stated that the Israeli government has declared that only vehicles owned by the International Red Cross, United Nations, or Doctors Without Borders will be permitted to travel between the north and south regions.
This morning, the Foreign Office informed us that they are unable to assist you with transportation from north to south. However, they have agreed to provide assistance in Egypt.
“I do not find it of any use. I do not need your assistance in Egypt as I am already there and can aid my family upon their arrival. I am disgusted by the unhelpful actions of the government.”
In October, Abuwarda embarked on a trip to Egypt in hopes of reuniting with his family at the border. He was worried about how his wife and five children, two of whom have autism, would be able to travel to the south. However, he was only able to reach Arisha before being denied further entry by Egyptian officials.
On Friday, he expressed his intention to visit the border once his family arrives. He also shared that he and his family are experiencing isolation and a lack of support. They were once proud to be British, but now they no longer feel that way.