We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.

zak hania

Taoiseach will discuss Irish citizen stuck in Gaza with President Biden 'if there's time'

Leo Varadkar promised to raise Zak Hania’s case with the American President, if there’s enough time to.

zAK AND BATOUL Zak Hania (L) has been stuck in Gaza since the conflict in broke out, almost six months ago. Last week, his wife Batoul (R) pleaded for the Government to help him escape.

TAOISEACH LEO VARADKAR has said that the evacuation of an Irish citizen stuck in Gaza is “certainly on the list” of topics he will discuss with US President Joe Biden later this week, if there’s time to.

Zak Hania is an Irish citizen and has been stuck in Gaza since the latest conflict between Israel and Palestinian militant group Hamas broke out after the 7 October attacks last year.

Hania’s wife, Batoul, and four children managed to leave Gaza after the Irish Embassy in Cairo, Egypt were able to guarantee their safe passage out of the region last year, but Zak was denied exit.

Batoul last week issued a plea to the Irish Government to help her husband escape the conflict-torn region, as concerns were mounting, globally, over the provision of humanitarian and medical aid being allowed to enter Gaza.

Asked about the Hania Family’s case in Boston today, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar promised to raise the issue with President Biden during their meeting in the Oval Office at the White House later this week, “if there’s time”.

zak hania Zak Hania pictured in Gaza. Hania family Hania family

Varadkar told reporters: “I’m sure you can appreciate there are maybe hundreds of requests and things to raise with President Biden and I won’t be able to raise them all, but that’s certainly on the list of things I will try to raise, if there is time.”

The Irish Government’s previous efforts to evacuate citizens were carried out through the State’s main contacts in the region, Egyptian and Israeli officials, the Taoiseach said.

Varadkar hinted that the task might not be as straightforward as before however, as Qatar has now carved itself out a large amount of influence in the negotiations in the conflict, whom the State has not dealt with to date.

“The US has influence over Israel – but doesn’t control any of the borders around Gaza, in fairness. So it’s the Egyptians and Israelis that we’re working with on that. They’re the ones who control the borders,” he said.

Last week Batoul told The Journal of her family’s life in Gaza and the struggles they faced when joining the mass exodus of citizens who were able to escape the region in November.

Batoul spoke of the impact Zak’s absence is having on their family, particularly on their sons, and of the loss the family suffered in the earliest days of the conflict, namely the death of Zak’s sister after a prolonged period without proper food or medication.

“A small number of Irish citizens or immediate dependants of Irish citizens remain in Gaza. Our Embassies in the region are in regular contact with those Irish citizens remaining in Gaza,” a spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs said.