The relief and development agency of the US Bishops issued a statement on All Saints Day, but did not name the two employees. Catholic Relief Services is the US arm of the international Vatican charity organization, Caritas.
“The Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza opened on November 1 to allow injured Palestinians and some other nationalities to leave Gaza,” CRS’s statement said. “Two Catholic Relief Services employees were among those able to cross into Egypt. We offer our deep thanks to many within the American government who worked behind the scenes to allow movement of humanitarian workers and those needing medical attention.”
The statement said that CRS has been providing life-saving assistance to Gazans since the current crisis began October 7, “and will continue to do so.”
“We have dozens of Gazan staff members who remain and are courageously assisting their fellow Gazans under unimaginable circumstances. As soon as circumstances allow, we will reposition international staff in Gaza,” said the statement.
Cessation of violence
Israel began a ground invasion of the Strip last weekend and continues to bomb what it says are Hamas targets. The country’s leadership has stated its intention to “destroy” Hamas in response to the organization’s attack on Israel on October 7, leaving a death toll of some 1,400 people, mostly civilians, and abducting more than 200 hostages.
The ground invasion was preceded by a siege on Gaza, with no food, water, fuel, or medicines allowed in. Israel has repeatedly warned civilians to move to the south of the Palestinian territory, but many Gazans have said it is not practical to do so. Some of Israel’s bombing has impacted civilian areas, including the Orthodox Church of St. Porphyrios in Gaza City.
CRS concluded its statement: “While we are happy two of our colleagues are now safely in Egypt, we are deeply concerned about the more than 2 million people in Gaza who remain in harm’s way. We continue to demand an immediate cessation of violence, greatly expanded access to humanitarian assistance and humanitarian corridors, and protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure.”
Over 360 foreign passport holders and 81 severely injured Palestinians were expected to enter Egypt so far, according to CNN.