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Team of international medics trapped at Gaza’s European Hospital safely evacuated

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A team of 16 international healthcare workers stranded in Gaza’s European Hospital has finally been evacuated two weeks after Israel seized the Rafah crossing between Egypt and the enclave, trapping them on site.

The group includes Adam Hamawy – an American citizen and former combat surgeon – known for saving the life of US Senator Tammy Duckworth in Iraq 20 years ago.

In a post on X, Duckworth said she was “beyond relieved that Dr. Hamawy – and his entire team – safely left Gaza today and that he will be able to see his family again soon.”

Hamawy previously turned down an evacuation offer, refusing to leave his non-US colleagues behind, who weren’t afforded the option to leave earlier.

“We hope that medical relief is allowed to replace us soon and a permanent ceasefire puts an end to this nightmare.”

The evacuation was a multi-lateral effort involving Jordan and the US. Australian, Egyptian, Irish and Omani nationals were among the evacuees. The team were told to follow a specific route to the Kerem Shalom crossing and were taken by the Jordanian military to the King Hussein Bridge.

On May 19, Hamawy wrote a letter to US President Joe Biden detailing the realities on the ground. “I have never in my career witnessed the level of atrocities and targeting of my medical colleagues as I have in Gaza.”

He urged Biden and the international community to allow free passage for medical personnel into Gaza, adding: “The children of Palestine are not safe. Civilians, population centers, are not safe. We, as humanitarian workers, are not safe. You have the power to end the invasion of Rafah and Gaza now.”

The group were working with the Palestine American Medical Association under the umbrella of the World Health Organization at the European Hospital in northern Rafah.

While the hospital wasn’t ordered to evacuate, Hamawy was “often awakened by a strike that [shook] the whole hospital.”

In his letter to Biden he added, “We are hearing bombs drop around us more frequently, amidst thousands of sheltering civilians. The streams of patients, mostly children, are rising faster than we can keep up with fewer medical staff.”

More than 35,000 people have been killed in Israel’s seven-month military offensive, most of them women and children, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health.

According to Hamawy, the European Hospital is “the last standing hospital that’s functionating like a functional medical center.”

Many hospitals have been forced to evacuate and, “the ones before them have all been raided and destroyed.”

No medical team replaced the healthcare professionals who evacuated Tuesday, leaving the hospital with even fewer workers to look after patients with increasingly fewer resources.

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