Bittersweet goodbye for Gaza doctor as family leaves enclave

GAZA (Reuters) - Gazan doctor Mohammad Abu Namous hugged his daughter a final time at the Rafah border crossing on Tuesday, bidding an emotional farewell to his family after staying behind to tend to the thousands wounded in Israel's bombardment of the enclave.

Namous' family, who hold Moldovan citizenship, are among hundreds of Gazans with foreign passports being permitted to leave to Egypt through the crossing, the only way out of the besieged Palestinian enclave that does not border Israel.

"There is no other way out of this. There is no safety. The entire Gaza Strip is unsafe. That is why it is best if I get them out so I can focus on my work treating patients," Namous told Reuters as he sat with his wife and daughter in the waiting area.

"Of course, I am getting them out, but I myself will be staying in the Gaza Strip. I will not leave."

Abu Namous, an orthopedic surgeon, says he moved his family from the Jabalia camp in northern Gaza as Israeli strikes began to al-Zahra and then the al-Nusairat camp in central Gaza - but finding a safe place for them proved elusive.

Israel has rained bombs on Gaza for weeks in retaliation for Palestinian militant group Hamas' deadly attack on Oct. 7, when Israel says fighters killed 1,400 people and took more than 200 hostages.

Health officials in Gaza estimate Israeli strikes have killed more than 10,000 people, with around 40% of them children, prompting U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres to warn that Gaza is becoming a "graveyard for children."

Abu Namous' daughter, Dina, said she felt both excited and sad at the prospect of leaving.

"We are going to go there, where there is electricity, water, internet and everything," she said. "But at the same time, I am sad that daddy is going to stay here."

(Reporting by Arafat Barbakh, Ibraheem Abu Mustafa, and Imad Creidi; Writing by Deepa Babington; Editing by Rosalba O'Brien)