Monday, July 22, 2024

First medical evacuation from Gaza in months transports 68 sick and injured children with companions

First Medical Evacuation from Gaza in Almost a Year Allows Sick Children into Egypt

Dozens of Sick and Injured Children Evacuated from Gaza to Egypt Amid Humanitarian Crisis

In a humanitarian gesture amidst the ongoing conflict in the region, Israeli authorities have allowed 68 sick and injured children, along with their companions, to leave the Gaza Strip and travel to Egypt for medical treatment. This marks the first medical evacuation from Gaza since May, when the territory’s only travel crossing was shut down.

The Israeli military body responsible for Palestinian civilian affairs, COGAT, announced on Thursday that the evacuation was coordinated with officials from the United States, Egypt, and the international community. The children and their companions departed Gaza via the Kerem Shalom crossing and were set to continue their journey to Egypt and other countries for medical care.

The health sector in Gaza has been severely impacted by the nearly nine-month Israel-Hamas war, with most hospitals forced to shut down. Health officials estimate that thousands of people, including hundreds of urgent cases, require medical treatment abroad. This evacuation is seen as a small step in addressing the growing crisis in Gaza.

Families bid tearful goodbyes to their loved ones as they left the Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis, bound for the crossing with Israel. The Rafah crossing, the main entry and exit point for people traveling to and from Gaza, remains closed due to the Israeli military’s control over it during their operation in the city last month.

Six of the children evacuated have serious medical conditions, including cancer and metabolic syndrome. The World Health Organization, along with three American charities, played a key role in facilitating the evacuation of these patients.

Dr. Mohammed Zaqout, the head of Gaza’s hospitals, emphasized the urgent need for medical treatment for thousands of patients in Gaza, including nearly 1,000 children with cancer. He highlighted the challenges of using the Kerem Shalom crossing as an alternative to Rafah crossing, calling for a more sustainable solution to facilitate medical evacuations.

The emotional scenes at Nasser Hospital underscored the desperation of families seeking medical care for their children. Many relatives were unable to accompany the patients, adding to their distress and uncertainty about the future.

Human rights organizations have petitioned Israel’s Supreme Court to establish a permanent mechanism for medical evacuations from Gaza. They argue that the current situation is unsustainable and call for the reopening of the Rafah crossing to allow patients to access urgent medical care.

As the international community continues to monitor the situation in Gaza, calls for establishing medical evacuation corridors and ensuring the safe passage of critically ill patients are growing louder. The latest evacuation of sick and injured children highlights the urgent need for a comprehensive solution to address the health crisis in Gaza amid the ongoing conflict.

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