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israel-hamas war

Irish Palestinians plead for government help to get loved ones out of Gaza

Irish citizens and Palestinians who have made Ireland their home were among those who gathered to make a joint call for emergency action.

PALESTINIANS LIVING IN Ireland have made emotional appeals to the Government to do more to secure the safe passage of their loved ones from Gaza.

Several families gathered in Dublin on Tuesday to implore the authorities to help their relatives flee the ongoing Israeli bombardment of the enclave.

The cases highlighted included Irish citizens who have still not managed to get out of Gaza via the Rafah crossing into Egypt.

Others involved Palestinians who have made Ireland home and who are desperately trying to get their loved ones to safety.

Batoul Hania managed to escape Gaza in recent weeks with her four children but her husband, Zak, an Irish passport holder, remains in the region unable to leave.

Her relative, Isra, whom she travelled with and who is an Irish citizen, is in the same situation, with her husband Muhamed also being prevented from leaving.

“I came from there, I came from hell and I know every little thing about that,” said Batoul Hania.

Her family were originally evacuated from north to south Gaza, a journey they had to make on foot.

“It was like going through hell, shattered pieces, blood here and there, the smell of the dead bodies, shooting, queuing us for 45 minutes in the hot sun,” she said.

“Just having the horrifying scenarios that they (Israeli Defence Forces) will grab anyone from us, while queuing in front of their tanks and in front of the horrifying soldiers, who were pointing their rifles against our kids’ faces.”

Ms Hania said the Irish embassy in Cairo helped secure the family a route out via the Rafah crossing.

“We were surprised on the day we had to leave Zak and Muhamed, the men, and just go with the kids,” she said.

“And this was very heart-breaking for us because it’s really splitting families, I know that the Israelis are very, very excellent at this, at splitting families apart.”

She added: “Zak is an Irish citizen, he has the privilege and he has the right to go out – so we still wonder why his name was not on the list.”

Ms Hania is also trying to secure the passage of her parents, Fatima and Abdul Raouf, and her brother, Ahmed.

Fatin Al Tamimi, who has lived in Ireland for 35 years, is trying to get her sister, Heba, and her family out of Gaza. Heba’s home has already been destroyed in the Israeli bombing.

“Because of the destruction and the misery they are living in, she is begging me to leave,” said Ms Al Tamimi.

“I know my sister is not Irish, but I’m Irish and I want her safety. I want to see her safe. I want to see my nieces and nephews safe. I want them out.

“So, please, they (Irish Government) don’t have to bring them to Ireland, they don’t have to accommodate them in any way, just give them the right, safe way to leave Gaza desperately for a better life or to survive.”

Among other cases highlighted at the event were Akram and Hanan Samour whose daughter, Saja, is trapped in Gaza; Nada Musleh whose husband, Abdallah, remains in the enclave; and Nour Ashour who has a number of relatives still in Gaza, including her sister, Aya Al Muhtadi, and their father, Mohammed.

People Before Profit TD, Richard Boyd Barrett, said the Government must initiate an “emergency response” to help get Palestinians with Irish links out of the enclave.

“I think everybody can understand just how serious the situation is and how terrified the families are,” he told reporters at the close of the event at Buswells Hotel, Dublin.

“So, I just want to reiterate the plea that the Government would respond to the families, respond to us and understand that this is not a normal situation.

“And that, you know, talk of long visa processes or any of that, this is totally different.

“The people who have talked to you (at the event) don’t know if their family members will be alive tomorrow and we’re asking for an emergency response from the Government to help them get their family members to safety.

“That’s what we hope will come out of it.”

Ireland’s deputy premier and Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheal Martin said the Government had not been given reasons why some Irish citizens had not yet been allowed to leave via the Rafah crossing.

He said the Government continued to work to secure the safe passage of Irish citizens and their dependants from Gaza.

“We don’t take these issues lightly,” he said.

“But the bottom line is Israel does have a very strong determining say as to who leaves. The Egyptians also play a role, their role is more on the receiving side of those who are allowed out of Gaza.

“We’re not in control of who eventually gets out. We can make representations, we do everything we can to get Irish citizens out, along with their dependants as well. And it’s a very tragic situation for the families.”

Tanaiste Mr Martin also criticised Mr Boyd Barrett’s stance, claiming he was trying to turn the situation into a “wedge issue” and make it about which party is more pro-Palestinian than the others.

A spokesman for the Tanaiste’s department said: “A small number of Irish citizens remain in Gaza. The Department of Foreign Affairs is continuing to work consistently with the relevant authorities on additional cases where these arise and to assist in instances where other Irish citizens and accompanying dependants wish to exit Gaza.

“Exit from Gaza is subject to the final decision of the relevant local authorities. The relevant authorities have made clear to all countries with citizens in Gaza that the current focus for facilitated departures from Gaza is on foreign and dual nationals and immediate dependants accompanying them.”

Press Association