UAE flight with Gaza victims: I was surprised by calmness on Palestinian faces

Those mothers could finally smile while looking at their children, for they knew, they were safe


Ashwani Kumar

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Photo: Shihab/KT
Photo: Shihab/KT

Published: Sat 18 Nov 2023, 4:58 PM

Last updated: Sun 19 Nov 2023, 9:41 PM

As the first flight with Gaza victims touched down in Abu Dhabi, I felt curious faces were looking out of the windows of that flight, with hope and optimism of getting their lives in order. It dawned upon me that the flight carries a bunch of war-ravaged individuals who only crave for basic things in their lives, which most of us take for granted. All the gory visuals of bombings and killings ran through my mind.

While standing on the runway, the feeling was of numbness and helplessness. In a matter of minutes, the special flight halted at the terminal of the Abu Dhabi International Airport. One by one, victims were shifted from the flight to a waiting fleet of ambulances.

Journalists had opportunities to interact with patients and officials. I was unsure about the state of mind of the victims as thousands of Palestinians have lost their lives in the ongoing war, and those surviving there are without food, water and electricity. Surprisingly, the patients, mostly women and children, looked calm and composed. They all felt relieved to be in Abu Dhabi.

Photo: Shihab/KT
Photo: Shihab/KT

“We feel safe and assured,” a woman said sitting in an ambulance.

Those mothers could finally smile while looking at their children, for they knew, they were safe.

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“I am relieved to have reached here,” said a pregnant woman while sitting next to her son.

The Emirati officials, on the other hand, had a sense of urgency and a look of desperation to do more for the war-affected Gazans, and immediately as the conflict continued to escalate.

Maha Barakat, assistant minister of Foreign Affairs for Health, noted that there will be more flights with patients in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan issued a new directive to fly in 1,000 Palestinian cancer patients for treatment in UAE hospitals. Earlier, Sheikh Mohamed had announced a decision to provide medical care to 1,000 Palestinian children and their families at hospitals in the country.


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