Israel-Hamas war

Filipino doctors among first to exit Gaza

Bea Cupin

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Filipino doctors among first to exit Gaza

WAIT. Egyptian volunteers wait at the Rafah crossing in Egypt October 17, 2023. Trucks carrying humanitarian aid for Palestinians await a decision for it to open and enter Gaza amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas.


(1st UPDATE)The DFA says 115 Filipinos want to leave Gaza and are just waiting for the go signal to cross the border to Egypt

MANILA, Philippines – Two doctors were among the first Filipinos to leave the besieged Gaza Strip, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) confirmed on Thursday, November 2. 

“Yes, the two Filipino doctors have crossed into Egypt, based on an update from Post,” said DFA spokesperson Teresita Daza, responding to questions from the media in a messaging app.  

DFA Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs Eduardo de Vega earlier said priority would be given to international humanitarian organizations in the negotiated evacuation. This was on top of the evacuation of the gravely injured. 

A total of 115 more Filipinos are waiting for the go signal to leave Gaza, added Daza. 

The first batch of evacuees were finally allowed to exit Gaza after three weeks of violence in the Palestinian territory that started on October 7, when the militant Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel. Tel Aviv, insisting on their right to self-defense, has since launched a relentless assault on Gaza, against Hamas fighters who are based there.

International groups have repeatedly called for a humanitarian pause or a ceasefire, if only to let people out of Gaza and to let much-needed aid inside the enclave. Israel has thumbed down this plea. 

Evacuations finally began after a Qatar-mediated agreement between Egypt, Israel, and Hamas to allow limited evacuations from the Palestinian territory took effect.

De Vega earlier said the Philippines was “engaging with Israel to prioritize” Filipinos in the first allowed exit from Gaza Strip. Early reports from media at the Rafah crossing, or the border between Gaza and Egypt, indicated that several foreigners had been allowed to leave Gaza.

Reuters, citing sources privy to the deal, said foreign passport holders and some critically injured people would be allowed to leave Gaza. No timeline was indicated on how long the evacuation would last.

There are 136 Filipinos in Gaza – the two doctors, as well as Filipinos and their Palestinian-Filipino children and grandchildren. Most of them have been waiting close to the Rafah crossing in case a humanitarian corridor is negotiated and foreigners are allowed out.

Philippine Ambassador to Amman Wilfredo Santos, in a message to Rappler, earlier said all 136 are “safe and accounted for,” after telecommunications were cut in Gaza yet again. 

As of the morning of November 2 (Manila time), 115 Filipinos have indicated that they want to leave Gaza. The remaining 19, including a Filipino nun who never left Gaza City, remain undecided over plans to leave. 

The Philippines has, for weeks, tried to negotiate the exit of its nationals from Gaza.

Gazans on social media have pointed out that neither the north nor the south are guaranteed to be safe as Israel, in its relentless bombardment of Gaza, has hit areas in the south as well. Tel Aviv has insisted that its assault was for “self-defense,” following a surprise October 7 attack from the militant Hamas on the southernmost parts of Israel.

Yet Israel has been criticized for targeting even refugee camps and hospitals. Tel Aviv has insisted this was because Hamas leaders and fighters were in those areas.

United Nations data estimate that over 1,400 Israelis were killed during the October 7 Hamas attack. Meanwhile, over 8,500 Palestinians have been killed since violence erupted following the Hamas attack.

Violence has been a long, tragic, and recurring part of Palestinian life, particularly in the Gaza Strip.

The militant Hamas has been administering Gaza since 2007. In response to the Hamas takeover, Israel enforced air, land, and sea blockades on Gaza, which means it’s Tel Aviv which controls who or what goes in and out of Gaza.

Conditions in Gaza have been dire and have become worse since October 7. Little aid has been able to enter Gaza, and Israel has insisted that fuel not be allowed in for fear that this will be used by Hamas in its attacks. –

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Bea Cupin

Bea is a senior multimedia reporter who covers national politics. She's been a journalist since 2011 and has written about Congress, the national police, and the Liberal Party for Rappler.