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Russian Foreign Ministry attaches importance to security of Russian citizens in Gaza

July 18, 2014, 17:48 UTC+3 MOSCOW

Totally, about 500 Russians live in Gaza

1 pages in this article
Russian Foreign Ministry building seen in Moscow

Russian Foreign Ministry building seen in Moscow

© ITAR-TASS/Sergei Bobylev

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MOSCOW, July 18. /ITAR-TASS/. Russia’s Foreign Ministry will attach priority attention to security of Russian citizens, who are currently in Gaza.

“Due to the dangerous escalation of violence around Gaza the measures are being taken to allow citizens of Russia and the CIS countries to leave the area,” the ministry said on Friday.

The Russian Embassy in Palestine maintained close cooperation with the Russian embassies in Tel Aviv and Cairo, Israel and the UN structures on the Palestinian territories, the International Committee of the Red Cross for allowing 50 Russians and 20 Ukrainians and Belarusians to leave Gaza on July 17 and ensuring their security, the ministry said.

“In the recent days about 100 Russians have left Gaza for Egypt by the Rafah checkpoint. We maintain permanent contacts with our citizens, who do not wish to leave Gaza for personal reasons,” it said.

“We continue watching the situation and paying attention to the development of events,” the ministry said.

Seventy-two citizens of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus succeeded in reaching the Rafah checkpoint on the border with Egypt during a five-hour humanitarian truce, requested by the United Nations, a well-informed source in Gaza said on July 17.

Most of them are women and children. They live in central and southern areas of the Palestinian coastal enclave.

On July 12, twenty Russian citizens left for Egypt. They will be able to leave the coastal enclave by their own because they live in a town located in proximity of the Rafah checkpoint. Russians, who live in other towns of Gaza, cannot reach Rafah because it was too dangerous to move in the area during Israel’s military operation.

Totally, about 500 Russians live in Gaza: women, who married to local residents, and their children, as well as Palestinians, who receive Russia’s citizenship.

A five-hour humanitarian truce agreed by Israel and Hamas came into force on Thursday on July 17, hours after the Israeli military said it fought Palestinian gunmen who infiltrated from Gaza.

A break for five hours in 10 days of fighting was requested by the United Nations to allow Gaza residents to gather supplies and repair infrastructure damaged in warfare that has killed at least 224 Palestinians, most of them, Gaza health officials said, civilians.

On July 15, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged the Hamas movement to support the peace initiative proposed by Egypt and stop the shelling of Israel.

The UN head’s deputy spokesman Farhan Haq told reporters that Ban was concerned over the continuing standoff, despite Israel’s readiness to accept the armistice offer.

“He is deeply worried that the fighting has not stopped, despite Israel’s readiness to accept the ceasefire proposal and the Palestinian Authority’s support,” Farhan Haq told reporters in New York.

“He calls on Hamas to cooperate with the Egyptian initiative, and urges all sides to build on this opening of a diplomatic channel. All parties must respect international humanitarian law.”

The United Nations for its part will continue to provide the humanitarian aid that is so needed in Gaza, Haq said. According to him, the UN chief on Sunday had a telephone conversation with Egyptian President Abd Al Fattah Al-Sisi in order to express support to his peace initiative.

However, the situation in the Gaza Strip deteriorates as Israel continues to deliver strikes on the enclave in response to Hamas rocket fire. According to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), since the beginning of Operation Protective Edge, 174 Palestinians have been killed and more than 1,000 injured in Gaza.

“The numbers are increasing by the hour,” Sami Mshasha of the UNRWA told a news conference in Geneva.

“We also notice that a good number of those killed and injured are women and children, and that is a cause of concern for UNRWA,” he said, speaking by phone from Jerusalem.

Mr. Mshasha added that 560 homes were completely destroyed and thousands of other buildings damaged in Israeli airstrikes. Since the latest hostilities began a week ago, senior UN officials and the Security Council have called on the parties to de-escalate the situation, restore calm, and reinstitute the November 2012 ceasefire that ended eight days of violence in Gaza and Israel.

Haq said that Israeli Air Force often target UN facilities.

As of Monday, 47 UNRWA facilities were damaged, he specified. The facilities of this agency in Gaza include 20 schools where 17,000 people have found shelter.

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