46 Filipinos in Gaza Get Green Light to Cross Rafah

World News Agencies By PNA • 7 November, 2023

Jerusalem, 7 November, 2023 (TPS) -- MANILA, Nov. 7, 2023 (PNA)
A total of 46 Filipinos were given permission to exit Gaza through the Rafah border crossing to Egypt within the day, the Department of Foreign Affairs said Tuesday.

The 46 are the combined number of the second batch and the first one that was supposed to leave Gaza on Sunday but was delayed due to “attacks by Hamas.”

For three straight days since Saturday, the DFA said there had been no crossings because of the unstable situation in the Strip.

“I’m pleased to inform that today they all have been approved for crossing. It’s not just a batch of 20 but the second batch as well have been approved for crossing today,” Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Eduardo de Vega said in an online briefing.

“They are calling by nationality but what our Embassy in Amman and Cairo are certain of is by tonight local time, they would have been able to cross into Egypt,” he added.

Of the 46, however, seven are still hesitant to leave — one wants his Palestinian wife to exit with him while one family wants to stay in Egypt with relatives.

“So we are sure that about 39 are ready to cross any moment. Our embassy is still convincing the seven to cross because it might affect our future listings for future repatriation for the other Filipinos,” De Vega said.

De Vega added that Israel’s Foreign Ministry gave a verbal confirmation to the Philippine Embassy in Tel Aviv that the Palestinian spouses of Filipino nationals “will also be allowed to leave Gaza” and that DFA is now waiting for a “written approval.”

A total of 116 Filipinos earlier expressed their intention to leave, but the number went down “because there were some who didn’t want to leave their Palestinian spouses or parents,” De Vega said.

“We would like to think that now they will confirm once we get the approval,” he said. “What we’re told is for Filipino citizens, their Palestinian spouses will be allowed to cross.”

Two Filipino medical personnel from the Doctors Without Borders were among the first wave of people that evacuated the enclave since the Israel-Hamas war started on Oct. 7.

This leaves 135 Filipinos still in the Gaza Strip, based on the latest DFA data.

The DFA updated the figure from 134 to 135 after discovering that a Filipino household worker accompanied and came with her employer to Gaza before the war broke out and have been trapped since then.

The household worker and the five other Filipinos still in Gaza City have also requested to be repatriated.

Israel launched air strikes and a ground invasion of Gaza with the goal of eliminating Hamas following its Oct. 7 attack on Israeli communities near the Gaza border. More than 1,400 people were killed and the number of people confirmed being held hostage in Gaza stands at 240.