Ambulances transported 76 seriously injured Palestinians from Gaza to Egypt for the first time since the war between Hamas and Israel began.
A group of 335 foreign passport holders, including British nationals, were also allowed to leave the country via the Rafah crossing on Wednesday, officials said.
Gaza’s border has been closed since Hamas’ attack on Israel on October 7.
Rafah is expected to remain open for a limited time in order to evacuate foreign nationals and injured civilians.
Western officials said a list of those allowed to travel would be agreed between Egypt and Israel and that the embassies of the countries involved would be notified in advance to ensure they were prepared to receive their nationals.
The BBC understands that there are approximately 7,000 dual nationals in Gaza.
British Foreign Secretary James Cleverley said the departure of the first of an estimated 200 British nationals in the territory was a “very important first step”.
“We are working with the Egyptian and Israeli authorities to ensure the crossing is open for the safe evacuation of all British nationals in the coming days.” he wrote to xformerly known as Twitter.
Israel has been shelling Gaza for three more weeks and recently sent ground troops in response to an unprecedented cross-border attack by Hamas militants that killed 1,400 people and took 240 hostages. did.
Gaza’s health ministry has since said more than 8,700 people have been killed in the area, and the United Nations has said the Israeli siege has left food, water, fuel and medical supplies dangerously low. There is.
An ambulance was seen rushing to Rafah on Wednesday morning. At least two children were among the injured, one with a bandage on his stomach. After medical examinations, they were taken away on stretchers.
At least 76 people had arrived in Egypt by evening, a Palestinian border authority spokesman and Egyptian officials said.
“Hospitals in the Gaza Strip are treating a large number of injured people, suffering from a shortage of medicines. [they] We cannot operate on such cases,” Naseem Hasan, a doctor at the Gaza Ministry of Health, told Reuters.
“Currently, they are being transported to the Egyptian side, where they will be examined and may be transferred to another hospital.”
Most patients will be taken to a field hospital built by Egyptian authorities in Sheikh Zuweid, 15 kilometers from Rafah. Others will go to permanent hospitals in the nearby town of El Arish or Ismailia.
But he said: “Attention must not be diverted from the far greater needs of Gaza’s thousands of patients, many of whom are extremely frail and unable to move.
“The flow of medical aid to Gaza must be accelerated immediately. Hospitals must be protected from bombing and military use.”
The WHO said more than a third of Gaza’s hospitals were not functioning, with the remaining hospitals only partially functioning and overwhelmed with casualties.
The Gaza Ministry of Health said more than 20,000 people were injured.
Foreigners and dual nationals were scheduled to be allowed into Egypt on Wednesday, but by evening Palestinian border authorities announced that only 335 people had been allowed into Egypt.
In addition to an unspecified number of British nationals, the group also included five French nationals, four Italian nationals, and a number of Americans.
Médecins Sans Frontières announced that 22 international staff members had safely crossed the border.
Egypt’s state-run Al-Qahera news television broadcast footage of the first group of people getting off the bus, including many women and young children.
Mohamed Ghalaini, a British scientist from Manchester, was in Gaza visiting family when the war broke out, but was forced to accompany his uncle after he was placed on a list of potential evacuees by Gazan authorities. Crossed the river.
He told the BBC: “People are really scared of what’s going on and they’re going to leave if they have the chance to leave.”
“But it is also difficult to reach the border because of the lack of fuel supplies,” he added. “So we saw people arriving at the border loading donkey carts.”
Other Britons hoping to cross in the coming days include Scottish First Minister Humza Yousaf’s in-laws.
He welcomed the news that borders were opening up, but said his in-laws were trapped without clean drinking water and rapidly dwindling supplies.
Meanwhile, the day after the Israeli attack, another large explosion reportedly occurred in Jabalia, north of Gaza, killing dozens of people.
Video footage and photos showed the devastation in the northwestern region of Fallujah, with hundreds of people searching for survivors under collapsed residential buildings.
The Hamas-led Health Ministry said Wednesday’s Israeli airstrike in Jabalia killed and wounded dozens of people.
The BBC has contacted the Israeli military for comment.
On Tuesday, the military announced that an attack in the center of Jabalia refugee camp killed a senior Hamas commander and “a number of terrorists” in an “underground terrorist infrastructure” buried beneath the building. As a result, infrastructure and buildings collapsed, it added.
It also accused Hamas of using civilians as human shields, forcing civilians in northern Gaza to seek security for themselves as tanks and troops continue to advance from various directions. I once again called on them to flee.
The Gaza Ministry of Health said at least 50 people were killed and 150 injured. However, a nearby hospital said there were 400 casualties, including 120 dead.
Hamas denied the commander’s death but said seven hostages taken from Israel, including three foreign passport holders, were killed in the airstrike, a claim it could not verify.
UN aid chief Martin Griffiths said Tuesday’s incident was “just the latest atrocity to befall the people of Gaza. The fighting there has entered an even more horrifying phase, with increasingly dire humanitarian consequences.” ” he said.