Foreign nationals and ambulances gather at Gaza's border on reports of gate opening

People enter the Rafah border crossing in the southern Gaza Strip before crossing into Egypt on Nov. 1, 2023.

Mohammed Abed/AFP via Getty Images

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Mohammed Abed/AFP via Getty Images

People enter the Rafah border crossing in the southern Gaza Strip before crossing into Egypt on Nov. 1, 2023.

Mohammed Abed/AFP via Getty Images

TEL AVIV, Israel — Foreign nationals gathered at Gaza’s border crossing with Egypt on Wednesday, as anticipation grew that the first group of people trapped inside Gaza since fighting broke out between Israel and Hamas would be allowed to leave.

On the other side of the Rafah crossing from Gaza into Egypt stood ambulances, waiting to evacuate critically injured people from the besieged territory, where Israeli airstrikes have killed thousands.

The Hamas-run border crossing authority announced early Wednesday that the Rafah border would be open for some foreign passport holders to exit Gaza. The authority published a list that appeared to include the names and passport information of nearly 500 foreigners, most of them citizens of eight countries or who are associated with NGOs. It is possible the list of 489 foreign nationals is not comprehensive and more people will be added.

The ragged border crossing that could become Gaza's lifeline

The Hamas Border Authority also said 81 “seriously injured” people would be taken to hospitals in Egypt for medical care. Live television footage of the crossing showed ambulances entering the terminal. There was no detail on nationality of those people immediately available.

Live TV footage on the Palestinian side of the border showed crowds of people, including children, gathered at the terminal separating Egypt from Gaza, many of them carrying suitcases and some with donkey-driven carts loaded with luggage.

With all of Israel’s borders with Gaza closed since Oct. 7, the day the militant group Hamas launched a brutal attack on Israeli towns, the only operational crossing into Gaza is Rafah, along the territory’s southern border with Egypt. Even that border has largely been closed; only aid trucks have been allowed through.

Israeli airstrikes have killed more than 8,000 and injured 20,000 others, Palestinian officials say, and doctors at Gaza’s hospitals say they are overwhelmed. Hundreds of American citizens have been stranded in Gaza since the war began, along with thousands of other foreign passport holders.

On Tuesday, 59 trucks of aid entered Gaza — the largest number of trucks in one day since aid began crossing on Oct. 21. Israel continues to block the delivery of fuel. Dozens of additional trucks were expected to enter Gaza Wednesday.

In the West Bank city of Jenin, Israeli raids and strikes leave Palestinians wary

The activity at the border took place as internet and phone service in Gaza was out again Wednesday. The Palestinian telecommunications company Paltel attributed the outage to “international routes that were previously reconnected being disconnected again.”

The announcement followed a 34-hour communications blackout in Gaza over the weekend that coincided with the start of Israel’s “expanded” ground operations.

On Tuesday, Israeli airstrikes caused significant damage to a large refugee camp in Jabalia, just north of Gaza City. The Israeli military said it was targeting the area, which it says is a Hamas “stronghold,” including underground tunnels and a command center.

A precise number of casualties and injuries isn’t yet known; initial reports from the health ministry in Gaza said a large number of people were wounded or killed.

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