The opening of the border in Egypt for the exit of Filipinos from Gaza amid Israel-Hamas war “could be any day now,” the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Tuesday, citing an Israeli official
Interviewed on Unang Balita, DFA Undersecretary Eduardo de Vega said Israeli and Egyptian authorities are still coordinating on the matter.
“Nakikipag-ugnayan pa rin ang Israelis at Egyptians paano itong prosesong ito kasi ayaw din nilang lumabas iyong Hamas, lumabas ng Gaza at pumasok ng Egypt,” De Vega said.
(The Israelis and Egyptians are still coordinating on the process because they do not want Hamas to leave Gaza and enter Egypt.)
“Isang problema po iyan. So inaayos pa nila ‘yung border arrangements. Pero tignan natin ito kasi sabi ng Israeli ambassador, it could be any day now,” he added.
(That is a problem. So they are working on border arrangements. But, let’s see, because the Israeli ambassador said it could be any day now.)
Out of the 135 Filipinos in Gaza, 92 have requested to be repatriated amid the war between Israel and Palestinian militant group Hamas, according to the DFA.
Filipinos stranded in Gaza are running out of food and some have reportedly resorted to eating spoiled bread.
De Vega said the Filipinos would run out of supplies if they just stayed near Rafah Border Crossing, the border between Egypt and Gaza. He said they had to move from place to place to find shelter and food.
“Kung nauubusan sila ng supplies kung nandoon lang sila sa Border Crossing. Kaya lumilipat-lipat sila somewhere in southern Gaza kung saan may puwede manirahan at may supplies,” he said.
(They risk running out of food if they just stayed at Border Crossing. That is why they are moving around southern Gaza where they can find shelter and food.)
As the Philippine embassy personnel cannot enter Gaza, which is under a blockade by the Israel government, De Vega said they are coordinating with international communities for the supplies and seeking for the opening of the conflict area for humanitarian aid.
He said no humanitarian aid has entered Gaza yet because Israeli authorities are making sure that no weapons and ammunition are being slipped into the Palestinian territory.
“Ang katuwiran ngayon kaya wala pang pumapasok, sinisiguradong aid talaga ito na darating sa mga mamayan ng Gaza at hindi lang gawing weapons, ammunitions, at smuggled na kung anu-ano papuntang Palestine,” he said.
(Their reason why no humanitarian aid was able to enter Gaza is they are making sure that it is really aid and not weapons, ammunition, and smuggled items being delivered to Palestine.)
Three Filipinos have been killed amid the war of Israel with Hamas.
Hamas militants carried out their deadliest attack in Israel’s history on October 7, when gunmen rampaged through Israeli towns.
Israel has retaliated with air strikes on Gaza that have razed entire districts.
Authorities in Gaza said Israeli air strikes had killed more than 2,300 people, a quarter of them children, with nearly 10,000 wounded so far.
In Israel, meanwhile, Hamas gunmen reportedly killed 1,300 people.
Israel vowed to escalate its response against Hamas with a ground offensive and notified more than a million residents of northern Gaza to flee south within 24 hours on Friday.
On Sunday, the Philippines raised Alert Level 4 in Gaza, meaning evacuation of Filipinos is now mandatory.
The DFA called for Filipinos to leave Gaza and vowed to assist them in crossing Egypt. At least 78 Filipinos are already situated near the Rafah Border Crossing. —KBK, GMA Integrated News