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  Wednesday, June 19, 2019
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Group of Russian diplomats in Israel has left for the country's border with violence-ridden Gaza
A group of Russian diplomats in Israel has left for the country's border with violence-ridden Gaza to help evacuate 141 Russian nationals stranded at the Erez crossing. The Russians, mainly women and children, are waiting along with hundreds of Palestinians at the overcrowded crossing to escape from the enclave, now fully controlled by Islamist group Hamas. The Israeli Army said on Tuesday that it would try to get the Russians across the border on Wednesday. The press attache of the Russian Embassy in Tel Aviv, Anastasia Fyodorova, said Wednesday: "We attach great hope to this announcement, and believe the evacuation could be completed today." Conditions at the border crossing are reportedly deteriorating, with little food and no sanitary facilities. People have been sleeping in a tunnel leading to the Israeli side, and many of them are injured. Tel Aviv closed the Erez checkpoint at the northern end of the Gaza Strip following six days of armed clashes between the rival Palestinian factions Hamas and pro-presidential Fatah, that left at least 100 people dead in Gaza by last Friday, when Hamas seized key Fatah strongholds. According to the evacuation plan, the Russian nationals will be taken via Israel to the Jordanian capital, Amman, where they will board an emergencies ministry transport plane to Moscow. Russia conducted a similar evacuation operation in July last year after a surge of violence in the Gaza Strip.
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