WHO welcomes Egypt's reception of wounded Palestinians for treatment

A medical worker transfers a wounded girl in the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah, on Nov 1, 2023. [Xinhua]

The World Health Organization (WHO) welcomed on Wednesday Egypt's decision to accept some 80 injured and sick people from the besieged Palestinian Gaza Strip for treatment in Egyptian hospitals.

WHO said in a statement that it has been working with the Egyptian Health Ministry "in planning and establishing a comprehensive triage, stabilization, and medical evacuation system, by providing ongoing training for health care staff."

"Al-Arish Hospital (in North Sinai) will be the main first referral hospital. It has fully equipped resuscitation and intensive care facilities, and a range of surgical teams to manage severe injuries," WHO said, noting that onward referral arrangements to second-line hospitals in Egypt are also in place.

The Egyptian Health Ministry announced on Wednesday that Egypt received through the Rafah border crossing the first group of wounded and sick Palestinians and transferred some of them to Al-Arish and Bir Al-Abd hospitals in North Sinai.

It added that quarantine doctors at the Rafah crossing also conducted medical examinations for 117 foreign nationals, including 35 children who received necessary vaccinations.

"All cases are stable and receiving superior medical care from the medical teams at the crossing or inside the hospitals," the ministry noted.

Later in the day, North Sinai Governor Mohamed Abdel-Fadil Shousha paid a visit to Palestinian patients at Al-Arish Hospital.

For the first time since the beginning of the recent Israeli siege on Gaza, some 500 foreign passport holders, including Palestinian dual citizens, crossed into Egypt from Gaza via the Rafah crossing on Wednesday, according to Egyptian and foreign media citing unnamed officials.

Salama Maarouf, the head of the government media office in Gaza, said in a press statement "we appreciate all the efforts that resulted in the partial opening of the Rafah crossing, and we appreciate the step taken by the brothers in Egypt in receiving a number of wounded to Egyptian hospitals."

He called on the Egyptian authorities to continue to open the crossing "permanently" to bring in all humanitarian needs and life supplies, "most notably the fuel needed to continue the work of service systems, which are now threatened with stopping work within hours."

A total of 216 trucks carrying humanitarian aid have entered Gaza since Oct. 21, according to the United Nations. However, international relief organizations stressed this was still far from enough to address the "enormous humanitarian needs" in Gaza.

"So far, Al-Arish airport has received 67 planes carrying more than 1,500 tons of aid supplies to Gaza coming from 19 countries and 14 international organizations," Khaled Zayed, head of the Egyptian Red Crescent branch in North Sinai, told Xinhua on Wednesday.

The Palestinian Health Ministry said on Wednesday that 8,720 Palestinians were killed in Gaza and 130 others in the West Bank and over 24,000 were injured since Israel started its war on Gaza.

The Israeli escalation came in retaliation for a massive surprise attack launched on Oct. 7 by the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas), which runs Gaza, which killed about 1,400 people in Israel while Hamas took over 200 to Gaza as hostages.