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First Russian Nationals Prepare to Evacuate Gaza – State Media

An Egyptian officer speaks with a foreign passport holder after arriving from the Gaza Strip. AFP

Updated with Peskov's remarks.

Dozens of Russian citizens are preparing to flee the besieged Gaza Strip into Egypt through the Rafah border crossing, Russia’s state-run news agency RIA Novosti reported Friday.

No Russians have yet been publicly confirmed as having left Gaza since the Rafah checkpoint was reopened on Nov. 1 to allow the evacuation of stranded foreigners and dual nationals. 

More than 80 Russian citizens have received Israel’s approval to leave Gaza, according to RIA Novosti.

Russian diplomats in Egypt and emergency crews are expected to greet the evacuees after their crossing, the outlet added. 

One Russian-speaking evacuee waiting at the Rafah crossing on Friday told RIA Novosti about living under Israeli's blockade for a month.

“There’s no water, no light… our homes were all bombed out, I grabbed what remaining clothes were left and ran,” she said.

“It’s some kind of nightmare, I’m in total shock.”

Some 700 foreign passport holders and dependents were able to cross the Rafah checkpoint on Thursday after evacuations were suspended for a day following bombardments along the route to the border, according to Reuters. 

Nearly 600 Russian citizens are awaiting evacuation, state media reported earlier this month, citing Russian diplomats.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said around 300 Russian children were on the evacuation list.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists on Friday that Moscow was “reservedly optimistic” about the evacuation of its citizens from the Gaza Strip.

The densely populated enclave has been decimated by the Israeli military's bombardment campaign launched in response to Hamas' surprise assault in southern Israel on Oct. 7, which saw more than 1,400 people brutally murdered. 

Over 10,800 Palestinians have been killed in the war so far, including more than 4,400 children, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza.

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