RAFAH, Egypt (AFP) – Egypt on Sunday blamed Hamas for not letting hundreds of Palestinians wounded by Israeli air strikes leave the Gaza Strip for treatment, with dozens of empty ambulances waiting on the border.
More than 270 Palestinians have been killed and 600 wounded since Israel began hammering the Gaza Strip with air strikes on Saturday, but no wounded have yet left via Rafah, the Hamas-ruled territory’s only Arab border crossing.
“No one has come in, we don’t know why they’re closed on the other side,” a senior border security official told AFP. Several plane- and truck-loads of aid are also waiting to be allowed into the Gaza Strip, a security official said.
“The wounded are barred from crossing” into Egypt, Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit said in Cairo, blaming “those who control Gaza. We are waiting for the wounded to cross.”
In the divided town of Rafah, the road leading to the border crossing was lined with 20 riot police vehicles, an AFP correspondent reported, with 40 ambulances and several pick-ups full of medicine waiting to cross into Gaza.
“We are preparing a list of casualties. There are just so many dead and injured,” Dr Mouneer al-Borsh from the Hamas-run health ministry told AFP at the border.
He had arrived at the border with a ministry truck and was waiting to take medical supplies into Gaza.
Asked when the wounded would arrive at the border, Borsh said: “I don’t know when. I can’t say.”
An Egyptian medic said that “sometimes they (Hamas) say they’re going to bring people, sometimes they say they’re not going to bring people. Now they say they want medical supplies for the wounded.”
Gaza has been crippled by an Israeli blockade of all but the most essential supplies, with even basic medicines lacking in the impoverished territory. But no emergency medical aid entered on Sunday.
A security official said that an Egyptian plane with 50 doctors on board as well as medical supplies had arrived in nearby El-Arish. Two Qatari aircraft carrying 50 tonnes of medical supplies were waiting at the same airport.
Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah has also ordered three planeloads of medical aid to the Gaza Strip via Egypt, MENA said, and offered to airlift the wounded.
“The Rafah border crossing was opened by the Egyptians yesterday, but no Hamas people showed up” on the other side, an Israeli military spokesman said.