Palestinian-Irish family ready to escape ‘Gaza hell’

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A father of two who says it seems “like God chose you to survive” is among the Irish-Palestinians whose family is on a list of those who must leave Gaza.

Along with his wife, daughter, and son, Aymen Shaheen hopes to escape the conflict zone by entering Egypt through the Rafah crossing.

He claimed that the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs was providing assistance to the family.

He described Gaza as “a hell” and expressed gratitude for his ability to escape.

“We are fortunate to be able to cross the border, but this nightmare will continue for the 2.3 million Palestinians living in Gaza,” Mr. Shaheen said to RTÉ, an Irish network.

The family is one of about 40 Irish people in Gaza.

The first group and their family members started crossing over the Rafah border early on Wednesday.

Mr Shaheen was told by the Irish government that his family can cross from Gaza to Egypt.

“They did well,” he said.

He wants to travel 4 kilometers (2. 5 miles) to the border with his wife Suha, his 19-year-old daughter Rawan, and 12-year-old son Ibrahim.

“It’s risky, but we have to go. We don’t have a choice,” he said.

The Irish Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin said it was “good news” that the crossings started, but he didn’t know exactly how many people would make the journey.

He said the situation is still changing, but they will keep working hard to get the rest of the Irish citizens out of Gaza.

Mr Shaheen said that life in Gaza became very difficult when Israel started bombing the area in early October.

The bombing started after Hamas attacked and killed over 1,400 Israelis in the southern part of the country on October 7th.

Hamas runs Gaza’s health ministry. They say over 11,000 people were killed in the Israeli attack, including more than 4,500 children.

“It’s really tough to be honest – tough to find food, tough to find water, tough to find bread. ” “It’s tough for everyone to be in this situation,” Mr.

He said someone told him to bring his family to Rafah. Officials from the Irish Embassy will be there to help them at the Egyptian border.

“He said we only have three days in Egypt and they will also arrange our trip to Ireland. ”

On Wednesday, Mr Martin is visiting Egypt as part of a short diplomatic tour of the Middle East.

He will go to Israel and the areas it controls on Thursday.

His department said: “We think more Irish citizens and their family members in Gaza will be added to the list in the next few days. ”

“We are working very hard to make sure that everyone who wants to leave can do so as quickly as possible. “

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