Civilians have been caught under weeks of Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip. Some have started making their way out. Hundreds of people were allowed to pass through the Rafah Crossing into Egypt on Wednesday.
US President Joe Biden cheers regional partners for their help paving the way for some wounded Palestinians and foreign nationals, including some US citizens, to escape Gaza.
“I personally spent a lot of time speaking with Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel and President Sissi of Egypt and others, to make sure that we could open this access for people to get out,” Biden says during a visit to Northfield, Minnesota. “I want to thank our partners, in particular Qatar, who worked so closely with us to support negotiations to facilitate the departure of these citizens.”
Biden said more work needs to be done to “significantly step up the flow of critical humanitarian assistance into Gaza.” He reiterates that he backs Israel’s right to defend itself “in a manner that is consistent with international humanitarian law.”
Diplomats have been looking for ways for civilians and others to escape the crossfire between Israeli forces and Hamas militants. They agreed on a limited evacuation for people holding foreign passports, employees of United Nations agencies, and aid groups such as Doctors Without Borders. More than 80 wounded Palestinians were also allowed to leave.
Nassem Hasan, a Palestinian medic, said, "These injuries require advanced treatment -- some major operations. As people know, hospitals in the Gaza Strip are treating many injured people while suffering from a lack of supplies."
Also on Wednesday, Israeli forces targeted the Jabalia refugee camp in northern Gaza with an airstrike for the second straight day. Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said they are hitting what he calls "terrorists" at "every level."
However, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh framed the attacks as "brutal massacres" of unarmed civilians. He warned that the hundreds of hostages his group is holding could face the same risk of "death and destruction."