Wounded Palestinians finally passed through the Rafah crossing into Egypt
on Monday as medical aid went in the other direction to the devastated
Gaza Strip, an AFP correspondent reported.
By evening, 22 patients, some in critical condition, crossed at the only
Gaza exit point which does not lead to Israel, the official MENA news
agency said. Some 30 wounded Palestinians had been due to enter Egypt
during the day.
Egyptian lorries loaded with medicines moved in early afternoon into the
neutral zone of the Rafah terminal to allow the transfer of their cargoes
onto Palestinian vehicles.
Trucks carrying aid sent by Qatar and Libya were also able to transfer their
The Egyptian government issued a statement saying it was "ready to allow
the passage of any food or medical aid for the Gaza Strip coming from
The Palestinian ambassador in Cairo, Nabil Amr, said Saudi Arabia sent
two fully equipped hospital aircraft to tend the wounded.
The oil-rich kingdom also sent aid to Egypt which would "immediately" be
passed on to Gaza, an Egyptian official told MENA.
Egyptian authorities opened the Rafah border point on Saturday on the first day of the massive Israeli air operation against the Hamas movement, which controls the impoverished Palestinian territory.
Hamas officials at the crossing said they were drawing up lists of wounded
whose condition allowed them to be safely transported.
Fathi Abu Maghli, Palestinian Authority health minister, told reporters on the
Egyptian side of the crossing that critically wounded patients had to be
stabilized before they could be sent to Egypt.
"The main difficulty was stabilising the patients," said Abu Maghli, who belongs to the West Bank government of Palestinian president Mahmud
However, Egypt on Sunday blamed Hamas for not letting hundreds of Palestinians wounded by Israeli air strikes leave the Gaza Strip for treatment, with dozens of empty ambulances waiting on the border.
Hamas/Egypt violence at the border
Egypt had closed the crossing on Sunday evening after dozens of Palestinians tried to climb over the border wall into Egypt -- some
succeeding -- and after an Egyptian border guard was killed when two
bullets hit him in the chest.
Another guard was wounded by shots from the Gaza Strip.
A Hamas official told AFP the ambulances waited in front of the crossing for
two hours before Egyptian guards turned them back because of the gunfight. Israeli air strikes continued relentlessly on Monday, with Palestinian medics putting the number of Gazans killed so far in the bombardments at well over 375 with more than 1,550 wounded.
Demonstrations have been held across the Middle East against the Israeli air raids, with many protesters also railing against Egypt for not opening its border with the Gaza Strip to deliveries of basic supplies and to civilians wishing to flee the Israeli air strikes.