Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
21 Children Are Set to Exit Gaza in First Medical Evacuation Since Early May
gvw_ap_news
By Associated Press
Published 3 weeks ago on
June 27, 2024

Amid the ongoing crisis in Gaza, 21 critically ill children are set to be evacuated for medical treatment, highlighting the dire situation in the region. (AP/Abdel Kareem Hana)

Share

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

KHAN YOUNIS, Gaza Strip — Twenty-one critically ill children were set to exit Gaza on Thursday in the first medical evacuation since the territory’s sole travel crossing was shut down in early May, Palestinian officials said.

The nearly nine-month Israel-Hamas war has devastated Gaza’s health sector and forced most of its hospitals to shut down. Health officials say thousands of people need medical treatment abroad, including hundreds of urgent cases.

Family Members Bid Farewell

Family members bade a tearful goodbye to the children as they and their escorts left the Nasser Hospital in the southern Gaza town of Khan Younis bound for the Kerem Shalom cargo crossing with Israel. It was not clear where they would receive treatment. The Israeli military body that coordinates civilian affairs in Gaza did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt, the only one available for people to travel in or out, shut down after Israeli forces captured it during their operation in the city early last month. Egypt has refused to reopen its side of the crossing until the Gaza side is returned to Palestinian control.

Children Transferred to Nasser Hospital

Six of the children were transferred to the Nasser Hospital from Al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza City earlier this week. Five have malignant cases of cancer and one suffers from metabolic syndrome. That evacuation was organized by the World Health Organization, which could not immediately be reached for comment.

At a press conference at Nasser Hospital on Thursday, Dr. Mohammed Zaqout, the head of Gaza’s hospitals, said the evacuation of the 21 children was conducted in coordination with the WHO and three American charities.

Zaqout said over 25,000 patients in Gaza require treatment abroad, including some 980 children with cancer, a quarter of whom need “urgent and immediate evacuation.”

He said the cases included in Thursday’s evacuation are “a drop in the ocean” and that the complicated route through Kerem Shalom and into Egypt cannot serve as an alternative to the Rafah crossing.

Anxiety and Uncertainty Among Families

At Nasser Hospital earlier on Thursday, many of the families appeared anxious. Most relatives had to stay behind, and even those allowed to accompany the patients did not know their final destination.

Nour Abu Zahri wept as he kissed his young daughter goodbye. The girl has severe burns on her head from an Israeli airstrike. He said he didn’t get clearance to leave Gaza with her, though her mother did.

“It’s been almost 10 months, and there is no solution for the hospitals here,” he said.

Kamela Abukweik burst into tears after her son got on the bus heading to the crossing with her mother. Neither she nor her husband were cleared to leave.

“He has tumors spread all over his body and we don’t know what the reason is. And he constantly has a fever,” she said. “I still don’t know where he is going.”

In a post on the social media platform X, the World Health Organization regional director for the Eastern Mediterranean, Hanan Balkhy, welcomed news of the children’s evacuation, but noted that “more than 10,000 patients still require medical care outside the Strip. Of the 13,872 people who have applied for medical evacuation since 7 October, only 35% have been evacuated.”

“Medical evacuation corridors must be urgently established for the sustained, organized, safe, and timely passage of critically ill patients from Gaza via all possible routes,” she said.

Israel’s offensive against Hamas, which runs the Gaza Strip, has killed over 37,700 Palestinians, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry, which does not differentiate between civilians and fighters in its count. Thousands of women and children are among the dead.

The war began with Hamas’ surprise attack into Israel on Oct. 7, in which militants killed some 1,200 people and took another 250 hostage.

On Thursday, the Israeli military ordered new evacuations from Gaza City neighborhoods that were heavily bombed and largely emptied early in the war. The latest orders apply to Shijaiyah and other neighborhoods where residents reported heavy bombing on Thursday.

First responders with Gaza’s Civil Defense said airstrikes hit five homes, killing at least three people and wounding another six. It said rescuers were still digging through the rubble for survivors.

Gaza City was heavily bombed in the opening weeks of the war. Israel ordered the evacuation of all of northern Gaza, including the territory’s largest city, later that month. Hundreds of thousands of people have remained in the north, even as Israeli troops have surrounded and largely isolated it.

Shijaiyah residents in a messaging group shared video showing large numbers of people fleeing the neighborhood on foot with their belongings in their arms.

International criticism has been growing over Israel’s campaign against Hamas as Palestinians face severe and widespread hunger. The eight-month war has largely cut off the flow of food, medicine and basic goods to Gaza, and people there are now totally dependent on aid. The top United Nations court has concluded there is a “plausible risk of genocide” in Gaza — a charge Israel strongly denies.

RELATED TOPICS:

DON'T MISS

UC Merced Finally Annexed Into City Limits After Two Decades

DON'T MISS

Donors Challenged Fresno Pacific to Match Their $1.5M Gift. Was the Goal Reached?

DON'T MISS

Garlic, Curry, Fresh Corn – Would You Scream for This Ice Cream?

DON'T MISS

Meet Po: A Gentle Superhero Looking for a Home

DON'T MISS

Largest Housing Provider for Migrant Children Engaged in Pervasive Sexual Abuse, US Says

DON'T MISS

25 Million Watched Trump’s Speech at the RNC on Thursday

DON'T MISS

City Wants Hard Reset on Art Hop. Don’t Expect Food Trucks or Vendors in August.

DON'T MISS

More Victims Come Forward in Dinuba Sex Assault Case

DON'T MISS

‘Twisters’ Is the Long-Awaited Sequel to ‘Twister.’ Where to See It in Fresno.

DON'T MISS

Fresno Offers Free Movie Tickets for Seniors to Beat the Heat

UP NEXT

Donors Challenged Fresno Pacific to Match Their $1.5M Gift. Was the Goal Reached?

UP NEXT

Garlic, Curry, Fresh Corn – Would You Scream for This Ice Cream?

UP NEXT

Meet Po: A Gentle Superhero Looking for a Home

UP NEXT

Largest Housing Provider for Migrant Children Engaged in Pervasive Sexual Abuse, US Says

UP NEXT

25 Million Watched Trump’s Speech at the RNC on Thursday

UP NEXT

City Wants Hard Reset on Art Hop. Don’t Expect Food Trucks or Vendors in August.

UP NEXT

More Victims Come Forward in Dinuba Sex Assault Case

UP NEXT

‘Twisters’ Is the Long-Awaited Sequel to ‘Twister.’ Where to See It in Fresno.

UP NEXT

Fresno Offers Free Movie Tickets for Seniors to Beat the Heat

UP NEXT

Mexican President Calls Donald Trump ‘a Friend’ and Says He’ll Warn Him Against Closing Border

Meet Po: A Gentle Superhero Looking for a Home

4 hours ago

Largest Housing Provider for Migrant Children Engaged in Pervasive Sexual Abuse, US Says

16 hours ago

25 Million Watched Trump’s Speech at the RNC on Thursday

16 hours ago

City Wants Hard Reset on Art Hop. Don’t Expect Food Trucks or Vendors in August.

17 hours ago

More Victims Come Forward in Dinuba Sex Assault Case

18 hours ago

‘Twisters’ Is the Long-Awaited Sequel to ‘Twister.’ Where to See It in Fresno.

18 hours ago

Fresno Offers Free Movie Tickets for Seniors to Beat the Heat

19 hours ago

Mexican President Calls Donald Trump ‘a Friend’ and Says He’ll Warn Him Against Closing Border

19 hours ago

Republicans Grapple With Next Moves if Democrats Replace Biden

19 hours ago

California Judge Halts Hearing in Fight Between State Agricultural Giant and Farmworkers’ Union

20 hours ago

UC Merced Finally Annexed Into City Limits After Two Decades

“UC Merced, you’re in the city!” Brianna Vaccari The Merced FOCUS That declaration was made by the chair of the Local A...

1 hour ago

1 hour ago

UC Merced Finally Annexed Into City Limits After Two Decades

3 hours ago

Donors Challenged Fresno Pacific to Match Their $1.5M Gift. Was the Goal Reached?

3 hours ago

Garlic, Curry, Fresh Corn – Would You Scream for This Ice Cream?

4 hours ago

Meet Po: A Gentle Superhero Looking for a Home

16 hours ago

Largest Housing Provider for Migrant Children Engaged in Pervasive Sexual Abuse, US Says

16 hours ago

25 Million Watched Trump’s Speech at the RNC on Thursday

17 hours ago

City Wants Hard Reset on Art Hop. Don’t Expect Food Trucks or Vendors in August.

18 hours ago

More Victims Come Forward in Dinuba Sex Assault Case

MENU

CONNECT WITH US

Search

Send this to a friend