As soon as the cease-fire between Israel and Hamas ended, eight more Filipinos and a Palestinian exited Gaza Strip, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said.
DFA Undersecretary Eduardo de Vega said the eight Filipinos crossed the Rafah border on December 2. Aside from the eight Filipinos, one Palestinian, who is a relative of a Filipino national, was also allowed to leave Gaza.
However, nine Filipinos who initially signed up to evacuate had decided at the last minute to stay behind as their Palestinian fathers were not allowed to leave the enclave.
Both Israel and Egypt control the Rafah border. Palestinians in Gaza are generally not allowed to exit, but if they are close family relatives of foreigners, such as Filipinos, and cleared by authorities, they can leave Gaza.
“A Filipino from the batch of eight decided to stay behind with her Palestinian father. Eight other Filipinos from one family changed their minds and decided to remain in Gaza with their Palestinian father. Their mother is already in the Philippines,” Philippine Ambassador to Jordan Wilfredo Santos said.
The Philippine Embassy in Amman has consular jurisdiction over Palestinian occupied territories, such as Gaza and West Bank.
The Philippine Embassy in Egypt took over the welfare of Gaza-based Filipinos and Palestinian relatives upon landing at the Egyptian border.
“A team led by Vice Consul Crystal Ann Dunuan was at the Egyptian side of the Rafah border to assist the Filipinos and liaise with the Egyptian authorities until the group finalized entry formalities late on 2 December. They reached Cairo early 3 December,” the Philippine Embassy in Egypt said.
With this latest batch of evacuees, the DFA has extricated 86 percent of the 137 registered Filipinos in Gaza, De Vega said.