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Ibrahim Alagha's three children in Egypt having been evacuated from Gaza Ibrahim Alagha

From living in 'darkness and fear' to safety: Irish family on their relief in leaving Gaza

‘One night you’re sleeping in darkness and fear, then the next day, you’re safe and in a quiet and nice place.’

AN IRISH FAMILY who were among a group of over 20 Irish citizens that have been allowed to leave Gaza said they have enjoyed their “first night in 50 days without fear”.

Ibrahim Alagha, his wife, and three children were among the group of 23 Irish citizens and their relatives who have made the journey out of Gaza and into Egypt via the Rafah border crossing.

The Rafah border crossing opened on 1 November to allow foreigners and dual nationals to flee the besieged region.

It was the first time Egypt has opened the Rafah crossing since the Israel-Hamas conflict began on 7 October.

Yesterday was the first time that Irish citizens in Gaza have been included in a list of those able to leave the region.

Speaking to The Journal, Ibrahim Alagha said that he and his family were informed at around 10pm on the day before their journey that they would be included in a list of evacuees.

Alagha and his family were in Gaza visting family when the fighting broke out. 

“So we got the news and we were not able to sleep that night from happiness and from the good news,” said Alagha.

“I knew that not all Irish citizens had made it out on that day, so we were very delighted we were on that list.”

He and his family arrived at the Rafah border crossing at around 7am, following an eight-hour car journey.

“Even the road trip was very lengthy,” said Alagha.

“Usually it takes five hours but yesterday it took around eight.”

Alagha added that he had to use vegetable oil rather than diesel fuel for the car in which he made the journey to the border crossing.

“So it was quite a funny thing, but we’ve made it,” Alagha told The Journal.

“The next day we were at the border at 7am.

“It was a very lengthy process and we finished at the border around 6pm, so we’re talking about nearly 12 hours at the border.

“There are very strict rules and regulations and paperwork.”

Alagha praised the work of the Irish Embassy staff in Cairo and told The Journal that they “did an amazing job”.  

“They were waiting for us in Cairo at the border and they did an amazing job helping us, easing the process at the border and also providing some snacks, transportation and accommodation in a car also,” said Alagha.

“I think they did a great job.”

While Alagha said he “can’t wait to go back to our house in Dublin”, he added that he has a “strange feeling” about reaching safety.

“It was a very strange feeling that one night you’re sleeping in darkness and fear and the worst living conditions possible.

“Then the next day, you have plenty of food, you’re safe and in a quiet and nice place, so it’s a very strange feeling.”

Alagha also said that he cried when he left Gaza, crying for the city and people he left behind.

“When the bus left Gaza and the moment it crossed to Egypt, I was crying,” Alagha told The Journal.

“I was crying for all the people and friends that I left behind, all the nice memories of a lovely city that has been completely destroyed, for the lives of the nearly 12,000 people so far that have been killed.

“So a lot of mixed feelings.”

Alagha added that even though he witnessed many tragic incidents in Gaza, he is shocked by some of what he has been seeing online since he left Gaza.

“It’s the first time I have stable and good internet and when I open my phone, now I can see a lot of videos and a lot of the reality that I was missing when I was in Gaza, even though I saw a lot of things that made me very sad.”

‘Working tirelessly’

Tánaiste Micheál Martin is due to meet with Israel’s foreign minister Eli Cohen today.

Martin said that he will “hopefully” meet with the President of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu also.

He said he will again “stress the urgency of getting all of our citizens out as quick as we possibly can”.

“We will work tirelessly to ensure that all Irish citizens that want to leave Gaza can do so as soon as possible,” the Tánaiste said.

The Tánaiste is also due to meet with the Palestinian Authority today.

He said the priority remains an immediate ceasefire and getting humanitarian aid into Gaza.