UAE: Palestinian evacuees find relief from 'devastating' Gaza crisis in Abu Dhabi

'Shukran' is the message they wish to convey for the UAE’s life-saving humanitarian gesture

by

Ashwani Kumar

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Photos: Ashwani Kumar/KT
Photos: Ashwani Kumar/KT

Published: Wed 29 Nov 2023, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Wed 29 Nov 2023, 11:43 AM

As 70-year-old Suhaila Hareb Khalil, a Palestinian cancer-ridden woman, is wheeled out to a waiting ambulance at the Abu Dhabi International Airport, she places her right hand on her heart. “Shukran” is the message she wishes to convey for the UAE’s life-saving humanitarian gesture.

While there is immense pain and anguish in her almost lifeless eyes following the conflicts endured back home, she expressed deep gratitude and appreciation for the UAE’s remarkable role in evacuating victims of Israel’s war on Gaza.

Suhaila, who is suffering from breast cancer, was among the several evacuees to have been flown into the UAE for continuous treatment at local hospitals here. More than 170 people from Gaza, mostly cancer patients and some wounded children, landed in Abu Dhabi from the El Arish International Airport in Egypt on Monday. A four-day truce between Israel-Hamas ending on Monday, which has been extended by two more days, helped the process of evacuating as many patients as possible through the crossing at the border with Egypt on Sunday. However, it was a challenging journey for Suhaila.

“We were in Gaza and then went to the Rafah Border but couldn’t cross the border. So, we returned to Gaza. Finally, we managed to enter Egypt on our second attempt,” Suhaila’s daughter told Khaleej Times as she sat beside her tired mother inside an ambulance stationed on the tarmac.

Once at the Abu Dhabi airport, ground staff escorted a wheelchair-bound Suhaila, who carried a few clothes into a polythene bag. Officials enquired about her well-being, making her feel comfortable.

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The ongoing rescue mission by the UAE is following the directives of implementation of the directives of President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, to provide medical treatment for 1,000 injured children, and 1,000 cancer patients from the Gaza Strip, in the UAE’s hospitals.

“My mother has breast cancer. She has vomited multiple times. We are extremely tired. We haven’t slept for the past two days,” she said while talking about making repeated attempts to enter Egypt through the Rafah Border Crossing.

Her eyes welled up and she did well to manage her anger while describing the escalating situation in the Gaza Strip, and pointed out that they felt a sigh of relief as the flight touched down in Abu Dhabi.

“We are devastated. The situation in Gaza is worsening by the day. The state of affairs there is beyond imagination. So, we are happy and relieved to be here. We feel safe. We are so thankful to everyone,” Suhaila’s daughter noted as her mother smiled in approval.

Since the unprecedented escalation in Palestine last month, the UAE was quick to provide urgent humanitarian aid and supplies to the Gaza Strip. Sheikh Mohamed ordered allocating a humanitarian aid package of $20 million and the establishment of an integrated field hospital inside the Gaza Strip as part of the 'Gallant Knight 3' operation.

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