Sixty-four Russian citizens evacuated from the Gaza Strip to Russia via Egypt have departed from Cairo on a Russian Emergencies Ministry plane in the early hours of Thursday, TASS reports. The plane departed at about 00:10 local time (01:10 Moscow time), APA reports citing TASS.
The plane arrived in Cairo on Wednesday at about 21:00 local time (22:00 Moscow time). In about four hours, it is scheduled to land at Moscow Domodedovo Airport.
"We wouldn’t wish on anyone what we had to go through here. Although this is not our first war: we’ve been here since 2001," evacuees Yekaterina and Ziyad told TASS. "A house was bombed literally eight meters from us, it’s a miracle that we were saved." "We do not plan to return there in the near future. We need to go through rehabilitation, at least until the fall," they added.
"We have lived there for 23 years. We lived through four wars, but we have never seen such damage. The city is completely destroyed. I think that it will take at least ten years to recover [Gaza]," Madina, another Russian national evacuated from the Gaza Strip, said. "Of course, the evacuation process was very difficult, as we had to reach an agreement with Israel, Palestine and Egypt. But I’m very grateful to our embassy and to all those involved in the evacuation."
On May 20, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a resolution on evacuation of citizens of Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS, or post-Soviet republics) from the Gaza Strip at their request.
In early hours of May 21, the Egypt-brokered ceasefire entered into effect after 11 days of fighting, as the Palestinian groups operating in the Gaza Strip and the Israeli army have been exchanging strikes since May 10. The escalation was sparked by clashes at Al Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem in early May, after the Israeli court had ruled to evict Arab families from their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. At least 250 civilians, including children and women, were killed in Gaza and 13 people were killed in Israel.