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Dozens of sick, injured children medically evacuated from Gaza


Dozens of sick, injured children medically evacuated from Gaza

Getty Images – STOCK

(NEW YORK) — Dozens of sick and injured children have been evacuated from Gaza to seek medical treatment, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) and Israel’s Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT).

COGAT said in a post on the social platform X that 68 pediatric patients were able to cross with their companions via the Kerem Shalom border crossing to Egypt and other countries, in coordination with the U.S. government, Egyptian officials and the international community.

The WHO said it was the first time medical evacuations had been allowed since the Rafah crossing on the border with Egypt was closed on May 7 amid an Israeli military incursion then.

At a press conference Thursday at Nasser Medical Complex in the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis, Dr. Mohammed Zaqout, general director of hospitals in Gaza, said the evacuations were conducted in a joint effort by the WHO and American charitable organizations.

Zaqout said there are still more than 25,000 patients who require treatment abroad, including 10,200 cases of cancer, of which 980 are among children.

WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus shared a video Friday on X of children and their parents, guardians or companions boarding a bus at Nasser Medical Complex to leave Gaza.

“We appeal for facilitated medical evacuation via all possible routes, including Rafah and [Kerem] Shalom, to Egypt, the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and from there to other countries when needed,” Tedros wrote in the post. “We appeal for sustained medical evacuations and a safe, timely, transparent and organized process. These patients urgently need specialized lifesaving care which they cannot get in Gaza.”

Also in a post on X, Hanan Balkhy, regional director for the WHO Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean, celebrated the news of the medical evacuations but noted the thousands of patients still waiting to receive care.

“Of the 13,872 people who have applied for medical evacuation since 7 October, only 35% have been evacuated, with support from WHO and partners,” she wrote. “Safe medical evacuation corridors must be established urgently, in order to ensure the sustainable, orderly, safe and timely passage of critically ill patients from Gaza, via all possible routes.”

Meanwhile, aid workers are still making trips into Gaza, but have been reporting scenes of “destruction” and “displacement.”

Louise Wateridge, senior communications manager for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), entered through the Kerem Shalom border crossing in southern Gaza on Thursday and described nearby Rafah as “destroyed.”

“Now, there are many, many families living inside these destroyed skeleton buildings,” she said Friday. “Blankets or plastic sheeting has been put up where walls have been blown out. So, it’s very visible to see the difference that the Rafah invasion and ongoing military action has had.”

Wateridge described “shocking” scenes she witnessed as she made her way from southern Gaza to central Gaza, where she is currently based.

“You can hear bombardments from the north, the middle and the south. … Gaza now really is hell on earth. It’s very hot. … Trash is piling up everywhere, people living under plastic sheeting where temperatures soar,” Wateridge said.

Since Hamas launched a surprise terrorist attack in Israel on Oct. 7, 2023, and Israel responded by declaring war, more than 37,765 people have been killed in Gaza and more than 86,429 have been injured, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Ministry of Health. More than 1,700 Israelis have been killed and more than 8,700 have been injured, according to Israeli officials.

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