COLOMBO : A group of 17 Sri Lankans who are caught in the Gaza Strip amidst the Israel-Hamas conflict have been permitted to leave the war-torn Palestinian enclave and enter Egypt via the Rafah border crossing.
Embassy of Sri Lanka in Tel Aviv has communicated this officially to the Foreign Employment Bureau (SLBFE).
Accordingly, 15 of these Sri Lankans are expected to reach Egypt this afternoon, SLBFE media spokesman Gamini Senarath said joining a special media briefing this Thursday morning (Nov. 02).
Speaking further, Senarath said the Sri Lankan Embassy in Israel and the Representative Office of Sri Lanka in Palestine are working in tandem to facilitate the evacuation of Sri Lankans trapped in Gaza.
Injured Palestinians and foreign nationals began arriving in Egypt from Gaza for the time on Wednesday (Nov. 01) since the Israel-Hamas war started to escalate in early October.
According to foreign media, more than 360 foreign nationals on an initial list of over 500, who were trapped in the besieged Gaza, have now entered Egypt through the Rafah border crossing under a Qatar-mediated deal. Passport holders from Australia, Austria, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Finland, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Jordan, the United Kingdom and the United States were evacuated, according to Reuters.
Rafah border crossing would reopen today so that more foreigners could exit, Gaza officials have said. Some 7,500 foreign passport holders would leave Gaza over about two weeks, a diplomatic source was quoted as saying.
Meanwhile, SLBFE spokesman, citing the Sri Lankan Ambassador to Israel Nimal Bandara, also mentioned that the Sri Lankan man, who remains missing since the surprise attack launched by Hamas earlier this month, is suspected to be among the hostages held by the Islamic militant group.
The 48-year-old father of two was reported missing after October 07, the day Hamas militants stormed from the blockaded Gaza Strip into nearby Israeli towns to launch an unprecedented attack.
The SLBFE spokesman said expeditious measures are being taken to facilitate the immediate release of Bandara.