Safe passage out of Gaza could ‘open any day now’ — DFA

Cristina Chi - Philstar.com
Safe passage out of Gaza could �open any day now� � DFA
People raise Palestinian flags and placards during a march to show solidarity with the Palestinians of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, in the southern Lebanese city of Sidon on October 13, 2023. Thousands of protesters poured onto the streets of several Middle East capitals in support of Palestinians amid Israeli air strikes on Gaza in reprisal for a surprise Hamas attack.
Khaled Desouki / AFP

MANILA, Philippines — The opening of the humanitarian corridor that would allow Filipinos to slip out of Gaza and into Egypt could be "any day now," a Department of Foreign Affairs official said Tuesday.

DFA Undersecretary Eduardo De Vega said in an interview with GMA’s "Unang Balita" that Israel officials are coordinating with authorities in Egypt to open the Rafah border crossing — the sole crossing point for people from Palestine looking to flee Gaza.

Both Israel and Egypt are concerned that opening the border would allow members of the militant Hamas group to escape Gaza and enter Egypt, De Vega said. 

“That’s one problem, so they’re still fixing border arrangements. But the Israeli ambassador said it could be any day now,” the DFA official added.

Around 131 Filipinos are currently in the Gaza Strip, all of whom are residents there and not overseas workers, according to Arnell Ignacio, administrator of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration in an interview with Radyo 630.

Of this number, 78 are in the Rafah border crossing, 30 are still in the southern part of Gaza and the remaining already left northern Gaza or Gaza City.

There are at least three Filipinos who are unaccounted for in Gaza, Ignacio said, but based on the monitoring of the OWWA and the DFA, “none of them are confirmed to have been taken hostage.”

"Based on our information, there is really no one taken hostage. The monitoring activities of the OWWA and DFA have been non-stop, and we are in constant communication with the Filipino community,” Ignacio said.

De Vega said that due to the Israeli government's blockade on Gaza, Philippine embassy personnel have been barred from entering the area to provide aid to Filipinos there.

Israeli authorities have not permitted any humanitarian aid to enter Gaza to block the possible transport of weaponry or contraband.

Three Filipinos have lost their lives from the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas.

Israel initiated a series of airstrikes on Gaza after Hamas gunmen stormed into the country on October 7 and killed more than a thousand people. 

In Gaza, where about 2.3 million people live, over 2,800 have died from Israeli airstrikes, and over 10,000 have been hurt. 

Since October 9, Israel has cut off water and electricity and blocked food, medicine and fuel from coming in, prompting international rights groups to call for humanitarian aid amid concerns that the Israeli government is imposing collective punishment on Palestinians.

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