First group of Russians evacuated from Gaza

Other News Materials 20 June 2007 15:27 (UTC +04:00)

( RIA Novosti ) - The first group of Russians and citizens of several other former Soviet republics is being evacuated from the volatile Gaza Strip into Israel.

A group of 40-45 people from Russia, Belarus, Moldova and Kazakhstan have boarded a bus in Gaza and are moving toward Israel, a RIA Novosti correspondent reports.

Ukrainian citizens are also being evacuated from the chaotic Palestinian enclave, which came under the full control of radical Islamic movement Hamas after last week's fighting with pro-presidential Fatah, which left at least 100 dead.

A total of 157 Russians, mostly women married to locals, along with their children, have applied for evacuation. They will be transported via the Erez checkpoint in northern Gaza. Tel Aviv agreed to open the checkpoint, closed last week to prevent spillover of violence, to let civilians leave the area.

Local medics have warned of a severe humanitarian situation if the hundreds of people stranded at the checkpoint, with little food and no sanitary facilities, are not admitted through the border.

The Russian evacuees will be transported to Jordan's capital Amman by bus and then flown home. Russian diplomats have said they hope to complete the evacuation by the end of the day.