Egypt opened its Rafah border crossing with Gaza yesterday to allow 10 ambulances to transport Palestinians seriously wounded in Israeli air strikes to Egyptian hospitals, medical officials said.
Egypt “exceptionally opened the Rafah crossing to allow 10 Egyptian ambulances into the Gaza Strip to transport wounded Palestinians... to be treated in Egypt,” a medical official said.
An official at the Gaza border said the opening was “exceptional” because it is usually closed during public holidays including Eid al-Fitr, this year running from Wednesday until today in Egypt.
The Egyptian public health authority said Friday that the holiday was being suspended for some Egyptian doctors and nurses in preparation to receive “those coming from the Gaza Strip”.
The Rafah border crossing is usually open on working days.
Health officials in Gaza say Israeli strikes have killed 145 people, including 41 children, since Monday.
Around 1,100 others have been wounded.
The Israeli strikes were retaliation for Palestinian group Hamas launching rockets on Israel, after Israeli police moved in on Palestinian worshippers in the Al Aqsa Mosque compound and cracked down on protests against planned Israeli expulsions of Palestinians from their homes in annexed east Jerusalem.
Egypt’s foreign minister Sameh Shoukry renewed his call for an “immediate ceasefire”, after a phone call with his Saudi counterpart.
“Both ministers exchanged views on how to quickly remedy the situation in order to restore calm. Minister Shoukry discussed Egypt’s latest efforts with all the concerned parties to ensure an immediate ceasefire and to end the bloodshed,” the foreign ministry said in a statement yesterday. The grand imam of Egypt’s Al Azhar mosque and university, Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, late Friday launched a campaign on social media in “support of the Palestinian people”.
“Stop the killing,” said Tayeb, who is head of the body considered the foremost religious institution worldwide.
“Enough with silence and double standards if we are really working towards peace.”
Yesterday, the head of the country’s Coptic Orthodox Church, Pope Tawadros II, who represents the largest religious minority in the Middle East, lambasted “the brutal attacks in Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip that have taken the innocent lives... of women and children”.
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