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The United States has evacuated 17 American doctors who remained trapped after the Israeli army raided Rafah on May 6. (Photo: DR. Ghada Abukuwaik, via social media)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff  

The doctors and medical workers were part of a medical mission at the European Hospital near Khan Yunis in southern Gaza.

The United States has evacuated 17 American doctors from the Gaza Strip, who had been working at one of the last hospitals still operating in the south of the besieged enclave.

“There were 20 American doctors, 17 are out now,” US National Security spokesman John Kirby told reporters on Friday. “All 17 wanted to leave, I won’t speak for the other three but I can assure you that any of them that wanted to leave, are out now.”

The doctors and medical workers were reportedly part of a medical mission at the European Hospital near Khan Yunis in southern Gaza but found themselves trapped after the Israeli army raided Rafah on May 6. The army then seized control of the Palestinian side of the Rafah crossing.

Since then, the Rafah crossing has been closed, isolating Palestinians in Gaza from contact with the outside world.

The Times of Israel reported on Friday that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has “put the onus on Egypt to reopen the crossing.”

“Egypt has accused Israel in turn of denying responsibility for a humanitarian crisis in Gaza and says that truck drivers and aid workers do not feel safe crossing through an Israeli checkpoint,” the report added.

Tense Exit Trip

The medical teams were supposed to be in Gaza for two weeks but found themselves trapped when Israel began its ground offensive into Rafah.

Media reports quoted one of the doctors, Dr Ammar Ghanem, an ICU specialist from Detroit, as saying that the 15-mile trip to the Karem Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom) Crossing took more than four hours “as explosions went off around them.”

According to an Associated Press report, Dr Ghanem said the trip was tense, with an Israeli tank at one point having aimed at the doctors’ convoy.

“The tank moved and blocked our way, and they directed their weapons (at) us. So that was a scary moment,” Ghanem reportedly said.

Rafah is home to roughly 1.5 million displaced Palestinians, with the UN Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) estimating more than 600,000 people have fled the city since the start of the Israeli attack, according to the Anadolu news agency.

Israel has continued its brutal offensive on Gaza despite a UN Security Council resolution demanding an immediate ceasefire in the enclave.

Rising Death Toll

Currently on trial before the International Court of Justice for genocide against Palestinians, Israel has been waging a devastating war on Gaza since October 7.

According to Gaza’s Ministry of Health, 35,386 Palestinians have been killed, and 79,366 wounded in Israel’s ongoing genocide in Gaza starting on October 7.

Moreover, at least 11,000 people are unaccounted for, presumed dead under the rubble of their homes throughout the Strip.

Palestinian and international organizations say that the majority of those killed and wounded are women and children.

The Israeli war has resulted in an acute famine, mostly in northern Gaza, resulting in the death of many Palestinians, mostly children.

The Israeli aggression has also resulted in the forceful displacement of nearly two million people from all over the Gaza Strip, with the vast majority of the displaced forced into the densely crowded southern city of Rafah near the border with Egypt – in what has become Palestine’s largest mass exodus since the 1948 Nakba.

Israel says that 1,200 soldiers and civilians were killed during the Al-Aqsa Flood Operation on October 7. Israeli media published reports suggesting that many Israelis were killed on that day by ‘friendly fire’.

(PC, Anadolu)

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