Palestinian mother Rinad is relieved that her three-year-old son, Ahmed, is finally in a safe place — the UAE. The toddler and his mother were among the first batch of injured Gazan children and women flown into Abu Dhabi for treatment.
However, as Rinad made her way to the UAE capital along with her youngest child, she had to make the heartbreaking choice of leaving behind her older kids and husband.
“We had to leave Gaza, it was not safe anywhere. My husband and other children are gravely injured,” she told Khaleej Times after the special flight landed at the Abu Dhabi International Airport from Al Arish International Airport in Egypt. “I hope they will be able to come here as well.”
As the Israel-Hamas war enters its seventh week, thousands have been killed and 1.5 million people displaced. Speaking of the horrors they endured at home, Rinad said Gaza is completely destroyed. “All hospitals, schools, and houses are bombed. Nothing is left for us over there.”
Al Fakhoura and Tal Al Zaatar schools were among the latest civilian facilities to be bombed on the besieged Gaza strip.
Rinad said she left Gaza for the Rafah border, where she was able to cross the Egyptian intersection and get on the rescue plane sent by the UAE.
Earlier this month, the UAE President, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, issued directives to fly in 1,000 injured Palestinian children to receive treatment at Emirati hospitals until they recover fully.
Like Rinad, Mayson Atiyeh is a mother who came to Abu Dhabi with her daughter Lujain. And she too, had to leave behind her injured husband and other children in Gaza.
“The journey to Abu Dhabi was indescribable, the welcome we received and the smiling faces we saw made us forget our children’s pain for a moment.”
Mayson said Gaza was unlivable. She and her daughter had to move to a school as her home was bombed.
“There is no water, no electricity, no food and no safety. (People are) living in horror, knowing that if they leave home, it may be the last time they see their family."
“Gaza is not Gaza anymore, there is nothing to live for; it’s completely destroyed.”
Mayson said she has lived through a nightmare — one that doesn’t seem to end. “My husband and older children are still in Gaza; I hope we can meet here (in the UAE), where we would all be safe.”
The UAE was among the first few countries to respond to the humanitarian needs of the Palestinians. The country launched the Tarahum (compassion) for Gaza campaign that saw tonnes of life-saving aid packed and sent to help those in Gaza.
In addition to the 1,000 Palestinian children, the UAE will also fly in 1,000 Palestinian cancer patients from the Gaza strip.
Sheikh Mohamed has also issued directives to set up a fully-equipped field hospital in Gaza. An air bridge is transporting the equipment needed to establish the 150-bed hospital.
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