Gaza's Rafah border with Egypt to open up for foreign nationals and aid, as hundreds of thousands flee to southern city

15 October 2023, 21:41 | Updated: 15 October 2023, 23:35

Rafah is opening up to foreign nationals
Rafah is opening up to foreign nationals. Picture: Alamy

By Kit Heren

Egypt is set to open up its southern border with Gaza to let foreign nationals and aid through on Monday, after days of waiting.

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Palestine's representative for the Rafah border with Egypt, has confirmed that Palestinians with foreign citizenships can go through to Egypt at 9am local time (7am UK time) on Monday.

Humanitarian aid will start crossing over into Gaza at that time.

It comes after Israel said it was gearing up for an invasion of northern Gaza in an attempt to wipe out Hamas. The country told Palestinians to make their way to the south of the territory to avoid the fighting.

British nationals in Gaza had been told by the Foreign Office to ensure they are ready if the crossing opens.

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Palestinian woman shows her German passport at the Rafah border crossing
Palestinian woman shows her German passport at the Rafah border crossing. Picture: Alamy

After the Rafah crossing opens, foreign citizen Palestinians will fly from Al Arish airport to Cairo, and then onwards.

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said earlier that it had been proving "incredibly difficult" to open the Rafah border crossing from Gaza into Egypt.

He told LBC: "Of course, we are making every effort to protect British nationals, whether they be in Gaza or Israel, and to facilitate people attempting to leave.

"Although, with Gaza, that is proving incredibly difficult."

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Dozens of foreign citizens gathered at Rafah on Saturday after a rumour that a deal had been struck to open the crossing. But they remained stranded as the border remained closed.

It is unclear what is going to happen to Palestinians who do not have any other citizenship.

Hundreds of thousands have flocked to the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis, which is creaking under the strain of the displaced people who have doubled its population overnight.

Palestinians line up in front of a bakery to buy bread in Khan Yunis on Sunday
Palestinians line up in front of a bakery to buy bread in Khan Yunis on Sunday. Picture: Getty

Israel has been bombarding Gaza and had turned off the water and electricity in the territory. Reports emerged on Sunday water had come back on in the south of Gaza.

But humanitarian groups operating in the area said there was no evidence of this.

It comes after Rishi Sunak and King Abdullah of Jordan discussed "diplomatic efforts to prevent further escalation in the wider Middle East" on Sunday.

In a readout of the meeting, a spokesperson said: "The Prime Minister reiterated the UK's support for Israel's right to defend itself following last week's terrorist attack and said Hamas' abhorrent actions should not undermine the just cause of the Palestinian people.

"They discussed diplomatic efforts to prevent further escalation in the wider Middle East, working with regional leaders as well as the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority.

"The leaders also agreed on the importance of taking measures to protect civilians in Gaza, including British and Jordanian citizens caught up in the violence, as well as ensuring humanitarian aid reaches those in need.

The Prime Minister thanked King Abdullah for Jordan's support for British nationals wishing to leave the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and the leaders agreed to remain in close contact in the coming days and weeks."