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Russia Begins Evacuating Citizens From Gaza Strip

Smoke rises from the site of an Israeli airstrike in the city of Rafah. Abed Rahim Khatib / dpa

Russia has begun evacuating its citizens who are trapped in the besieged Gaza Strip, according to a statement released by the Emergency Situations Ministry on Sunday. 

"The Emergency Situations Ministry together with Russian diplomats have organized the evacuation of civilians from the Gaza Strip," read the statement, which was published on the messaging app Telegram.

"Over the past week, the operational group of the Emergency Situations Ministry of Russia has been working to coordinate the procedure and routes for the evacuation of Russian citizens trapped in the area of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict," it continued.

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

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists on Friday that Moscow was "reservedly optimistic" about the evacuation of its citizens from the densely populated enclave.

More than 80 Russian citizens have received Israel’s approval to leave Gaza, the state-run RIA Novosti news agency reported this week.

"Specialists from the Emergency Situations Ministry are providing medical and psychological support to people [crossing the border checkpoint], providing them with food and water," read the Emergency Situations Ministry's statement published on Sunday. 

Authorities noted that Russian nationals fleeing the Gaza Strip into Egypt through the Rafah border crossing would be sent to Cairo, where the Emergency Situations Ministry has established a temporary headquarters to oversee the evacuations.

More than 60 Russian nationals were confirmed to have crossed the Rafah border checkpoint and entered Egypt, according to a statement released later on Sunday. 

The Gaza Strip has been decimated by an Israeli bombardment campaign launched in response to Hamas' surprise assault in southern Israel on Oct. 7, which saw at least 1,200 people brutally murdered. 

Over 11,000 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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