46 Pinoys from Gaza Strip expected to arrive this week – DFA
MANILA, Philippines — Forty-six Filipinos trapped in the Gaza Strip are expected to leave for Egypt on Tuesday after their initial schedule on Sunday was postponed due to intensified fighting between Israel Defense Forces and the Palestine Islamic group Hamas.
“Today (Nov.7), they all have been approved for crossing,” Department of Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Eduardo de Vega said in an online press briefing on Tuesday, exactly a month after the Oct. 7 sneak attack by Hamas militants on Israel.
De Vega said the 46 Filipinos were expected to go through the Rafah crossing, more than 300 kilometers west-southwest of the border on Tuesday night. They comprised the initial first and second batches of 20 and 26 Filipinos, respectively.
The two batches were initially scheduled to cross Rafah on Nov. 5 and Nov. 6 but both were postponed due to fighting near the border.
He added once their passage is successful, the 46 Filipinos will be staying in Cairo under the care of the Philippine Embassy in Egypt for a day or two before they board a direct flight to Manila. They are expected to arrive in the country within the week.
De Vega also shared the news that the Palestinian spouses of the Filipinos were allowed “in principle” by the Israeli government to cross the border as well, though there’s no certainty.
“The Palestinian spouses will also be allowed with their [Filipino] spouses. It’s just a matter of waiting for their written approval. That would mean it will be easier for our embassy to convince those left to cross the border when they are already called to cross,” De Vega said.
In total, there are 135 Filipino nationals in Gaza. The number didn’t include the two Filipino medical practitioners of the medical outreach organization, Doctors Without Borders, who were also in Gaza but have already left last week.
After Israel initially not giving passage to their Palestinian spouses, only 39 Filipinos decided to leave Gaza while seven others were still uncertain.
The rest did not want to leave their Gazan partners behind so they opted to stay in the war-torn country.
De Vega is optimistic that more Filipinos will decide to be repatriated as soon as possible as their Palestinian spouses are close to having “official and written approval.”
“We recall the Oct. 7 assault, and we again express our sympathies for the state of Israel for their great loss, “ De Vega said.