Canadians in the Gaza Strip who were previously told they could be allowed out over the weekend will have to wait longer to escape the besieged Palestinian territory.
The General Authority for Border Crossings in Gaza said the Rafah border crossing into Egypt reopened on Monday to allow foreigners whose names were on approved lists out of the enclave, after the crossing had closed over the weekend amid escalating attacks from Israel.
Approved evacuation lists from the General Authority for Border Crossings in Gaza, as presented on a widely-shared Google spreadsheet, had not included names of Canadians as of Monday morning.
In Canada, two women trying to help loved ones leave Gaza said they had received information from Global Affairs Canada that Canadians were tentatively scheduled to start leaving Gaza as early as Tuesday.
Israel’s military has said it has encircled Gaza City and divided the besieged coastal strip into two as it continues its war against Hamas.
London, Ont., resident Samah Al Sabbagh said she was worried about how her 73-year-old father, who is a Canadian citizen, would get from Gaza City in the north to the Rafah crossing in the south after Israel severed northern Gaza from the rest of the strip.
“He’s just very anxious. He’s just waiting. He’s waiting to get out,” she said in a phone interview Monday.
“Things are getting worse and worse every day … I talked to him this morning, three o’clock in the morning, and he said it’s getting really bad.”
Al Sabbagh said the email she received Sunday from Global Affairs had also warned that the situation at the Rafah crossing remains “fluid and unpredictable.” She said she was still waiting for a response from Global Affairs on how the Canadian government could help her father move towards the border crossing.
“Nobody has reached out from the government, from the Global Affairs, telling us how they’re going to support him move from north to south,” she said.
“Every time I talk to Global Affairs, I asked them that same question: ‘How are you going to help him get down from the north to the south?’ And they said, ‘well, there’s nothing we can do.'”
Dalia Salim, who has been relaying messages from the Canadian government to her 66-year-old father in Gaza, said she had also heard from Global Affairs about a tentative Tuesday crossing. She said a new telecommunications blackout in the territory had her concerned her father wouldn’t be able to find out when it’s safe to make the crossing.
Global Affairs said the Israeli military has assured Canada that more than 400 of its citizens will be able to cross “in the coming days” and added that three have already left with a third party, though they offered no further details.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he thanked Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi on Sunday for supporting the departure of foreign nationals from Gaza, including Canadians and their families.
The Rafah border crossing is the only exit point for foreign nationals who wish to leave the Palestinian territory, which has been under constant bombardment since the Israeli army launched retaliatory attacks for the brutal Oct. 7 incursion by Hamas.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 6, 2023.