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More Russians flee Gaza

More Russians have been evacuated from Gaza to Jordan in the Middle East and are now waiting to be flown back to Moscow. Most of the refugees are Russian women married to Palestinians and accompanied by their children. Last month over 70 Russians fled the

Only 35 Russian and former Soviet Union citizens have decided to leave Gaza on Monday as part of the second evacuation organised by the Russian embassy, although originally the number stood at 116.

For the moment, Russian representatives have only made suggestions about why some had a change of heart.

“For now I have no information about their motives. After this second phase of evacuation is over we will contact the families who were on the list to clear up what made them stay. Probably some decided at the last moment to stay for personal reasons. Some hesitate to leave as the situation in Gaza has been relatively calm over the last few days – so maybe some hope that it is ameliorating,” commented Russian envoy to the Palestinian Autonomy Aleksey Pogodin.

Apart from this, some more complicated reasons are involved, noted Mr Pogodin.

“Another reason, as far as I know, is that the majority of Russian citizens do not have Palestinian ID cards. The problem is that the Palestinian Autonomy cannot issue these cards without the permission of the Israeli side. And from the beginning of the intifada seven years ago there have been no contacts between the Palestinian and Israeli authorities. So those citizens who do not have ID cards risk not to be allowed to Gaza afterwards. So we are working with the Israeli authorities over this issue trying to find a solution to the problem,” he said.

First  the refugees will be taken through Israel to the Israeli-Jordanian border. From there they will head to the Jordanian capital Amman where a Russian emergency flight will take them to Moscow.

The situation in Gaza has stabilised since Hamas took over some month ago. But at the same time there are concerns of the international community that the isolation of Hamas could lead to unemployment and thus further destabilise the situation. It is unlikely that there will be a third evacuation but the Russian government is continuing to monitor the situation, particularly in the West Bank. This area is controlled by the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah faction and there are some 300 Russian citizens living there.