Photos: Shihab/Khaleej Times
The second group of Palestinian children injured in the war in Gaza landed in the United Arab Emirates to receive treatment in Emirati hospitals. Khaleej Times was part of the mission in which a flight from Abu Dhabi landed at Al Arish International Airport in Egypt, evacuated the children and returned to Abu Dhabi in less than 15 hours. The children suffered war injuries ranging from fractures to burns; some suffer from cancer.
More than 50 passengers, including medical volunteers and cabin crew, landed in Al Arish at 5:45 p.m. local time (7:45 p.m. UAE time). Once the patients were transported by ambulance to the tarmac, medical volunteers descended and checked the condition of each person.
After the patients were checked and stabilized, they were loaded onto the plane, a procedure that required patience and precision and lasted more than five hours.
Earlier this month, the President of the United Arab Emirates, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, issued an urgent directive to provide medical treatment to 1,000 Palestinian children in the Gaza Strip. The United Arab Emirates also offered to treat 1,000 cancer patients in its hospitals after the city’s health system collapsed amid continued Israeli bombing.
A group of doctors from the United Arab Emirates will transport a second group of patients injured in Gaza from El Arish in Egypt to the United Arab Emirates.
Dream comes true
Mohammed, a Palestinian resident, had always dreamed of coming to the United Arab Emirates. On Tuesday his dream came true when he landed in Abu Dhabi, albeit as a spectator for his cousin, who suffered a spinal injury during Israel’s bombing of Gaza.
Mohammed and his cousin Mohammed Anwar were the last surviving members of his family. “Our parents wanted us to come here together,” he said. “They wanted us to be safe and away from war.”
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When he boarded a plane for the first time, Mohammed was excited and was able to forget for a few minutes the war that was ravaging his country of origin. The medical staff accompanying him showed him how to use the entertainment system. However, he was more interested in looking out the window. As the plane approached landing, he took out his phone and tried to capture the beauty of Abu Dhabi. “This country looks so beautiful,” he exclaimed several times.
However, when talking about his family, his eyes filled with tears. “I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to see them again,” she said.
The children had been evacuated from southern Gaza according to Israeli warnings and were living in the northern part with their uncle when a bombing destroyed their neighbor’s house. A wall of his neighbor’s house collapsed and fell on Anwar, seriously injuring his back. He had to be transported horizontally and will soon be operated on in the United Arab Emirates.
A group of volunteers worked day and night to ensure that patient transport was as easy as possible. When the stretchers available in Egypt did not reach the crane provided by Etihad Airways, volunteers gathered around and in one swift movement lifted them onto the crane.
The crane was then slowly lifted onto the plane where the patients were taken to special medical areas, where some of them cried in pain. The doctors did everything they could to reduce the pain not only by giving them painkillers but also by playing jokes with the children and distracting them.
According to officials, there will be more flights transporting injured children from Gaza to the United Arab Emirates in the future.
Here are some images of the emotional trip:
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