Bangladesh cuts pilgrimage package costs for next year’s Hajj

Bangladesh cuts pilgrimage package costs for next year’s Hajj
Bangladesh cuts pilgrimage package costs for next year’s Hajj

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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - Jakarta: Indonesia has evacuated four nationals from the Gaza Strip, its foreign minister said on Friday, after complex efforts to ensure safe passage for them.

Ten Indonesians have been living in the densely populated Palestinian enclave, which has been under constant fire since Oct. 7, when Israeli warplanes began their daily bombardment of residential buildings, schools and medical facilities in retaliation for an attack by the Gaza-based militant group Hamas.

More than three weeks into the deadly bombardment, which has killed more than 9,000 people, most of them women and children, and wounded tens of thousands, Israel has allowed some foreign passport holders to evacuate to Egypt through the Rafah crossing.

With no humanitarian ceasefire, however, the evacuees and those helping them reach the border, remain under constant threat from Israeli strikes.

Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi told reporters in Jakarta that so far one family, consisting of an Indonesian national, his Palestinian wife, and their three children, has managed to enter Egypt.

Evacuation, she said, was “not something easy” and it took three attempts since Wednesday for the family to reach Rafah, because “there were attacks along the way.”

The family eventually reached the border on Thursday evening and on Friday morning was taken care of by Indonesia’s consular staff in Egypt.

“What makes the evacuation process even more difficult is that communication is on and off. Sometimes the connection is there but most of the time it is not,” Marsudi said, adding that other countries have been experiencing the same difficulties.

“My explanation regarding the efforts ... is proof of the very difficult undertaking needed to create a corridor for safe evacuation.”

The cutting of phone and internet connections by Israel last week plunged Gaza into a communications blackout amid intensified aerial bombardment.

While some communication has been restored, it is regularly shut down and difficult to maintain as power supplies have run out in the besieged area.

Indonesia is now trying to evacuate a second family.

“They are three Indonesian citizens (husband and two children) and a Palestinian wife. Yesterday, on Nov. 2, they arrived at the Rafah gate, but there are still several administrative issues that are being resolved,” Marsudi said.

She added that there were another three Indonesians in Gaza — volunteers of the Indonesian NGO Medical Emergency Rescue Committee, or MER-C, which funds the Indonesia Hospital in Bait Lahia.

They remain at the hospital and have opted to stay.

“From the beginning, we have also been communicating with the three of them,” the minister said.

“They have decided to stay in Gaza. We will continue to be in touch.”

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