First Group Has Left Gaza Since the War Began

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After three weeks of thwarted hopes and intensive diplomatic negotiations, the first group of people to evacuate Gaza since the war between Israel and Hamas began on Oct. 7 was beginning to arrive in Egypt.

Thousands of foreign passport holders and people affiliated with international organizations are set to evacuate to Egypt starting on Wednesday. Several seriously injured Palestinians arrived on Wednesday, Egyptian state TV and a local medical official said, and hundreds of foreign passport holders were moving through checkpoints at the Rafah border crossing.

More were to follow in the coming days, according to Gazan authorities and Western diplomats.

The agreement to allow them to cross came together late on Tuesday in talks that have been continuing among Israel, Egypt, Hamas, the United States and Qatar.

Here’s what we know about the departures:

  • The list of people set to leave on Wednesday included foreign citizens and dual passport holders from Australia, Austria, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Finland, Indonesia, Japan and Jordan, as well as staff members from aid organizations including Doctors Without Borders, the International Committee of the Red Cross and UNRWA, the United Nations agency that aids Palestinians.

  • There are also 81 wounded people who are being taken for treatment in Egypt, the Gazan authorities and Egyptian state media said. Some family members are traveling to Egypt with them as escorts. The full group leaving in the medical convoys numbers about 130, a senior Western diplomat in Cairo said.

  • Starting Thursday, 1,000 foreign passport holders and Palestinian staff members of international organizations are expected to leave via the Rafah crossing, Western diplomats in Cairo said. It was unclear how long the departures would go on, but the diplomats said they were expected to continue until everyone who is eligible and willing to leave can do so.

  • American citizens are not among those scheduled to leave on Wednesday, but they will come out in groups starting as soon as Thursday, the diplomats said. The U.S. State Department has emailed American citizens in Gaza to tell them to prepare to leave, informing them that they will be assigned specific departure dates.

  • After weeks of stalled negotiations among Israel, Egypt, Hamas, the United States and Qatar — which was communicating with Hamas because the United States and Israel do not have formal relations with the group — the agreement came together suddenly on Tuesday. Egypt instructed foreign embassies late Tuesday night to head to Rafah to receive their citizens, amid some uncertainty about which countries’ citizens would depart when, the diplomats said.

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