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Russians' evacuation from Gaza delayed until at least Wednesday -1

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Russian citizens awaiting evacuation from the Gaza Strip will not be able to leave before Wednesday, the Russian Embassy in Tel Aviv said Tuesday.
(Adds details, Israeli Army source in paras 4-9)

TEL AVIV, June 19 (RIA Novosti) - Russian citizens awaiting evacuation from the Gaza Strip will not be able to leave before Wednesday, the Russian Embassy in Tel Aviv said Tuesday.

Embassy press attache Anastasia Fyodorova said: "The Russian citizens are not likely to be evacuated from the Gaza Strip before tomorrow."

Some 140 Russian citizens are waiting to leave the violence-ridden enclave, now fully controlled by radical Islamist group Hamas. Most of the Russians are women married to Palestinians, and their children.

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 women and children 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.

A humanitarian aid coordinator said Tuesday that three Russian families, totaling 12 people, had been allowed to leave Gaza, but diplomats have not confirmed the report.

An Israeli army press officer said Israel was focusing on the Palestinian wounded, so the Russians would have to wait. "Removing the wounded is more important for us now than evacuating those who are not injured," she said.

She said ambulances will remove Palestinians wounded on Monday in a shooting at Erez, who "refused to be sent to Gaza hospitals and demanded Israeli doctors."

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