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Wednesday, December 6, 2023

‘Gazans don’t have passports so can’t get out’ says Palestinian living in Cork 

People are trapped in Gaza unable to leave with no passports and are unable to apply for travel documents because the office that issues them has shut, a Palestinian living in Cork has said.

Habib Al Ostaz, 27, last spoke to his family three days ago. They are all subsisting in a UN school in the south after fleeing their home in the north.

“I’m trying to call them every day but there’s no connection.

“The situation is really bad. There’s no food, no clean water. They’re drinking really bad water and collecting what they can from the rain.

“They hear bombing every three minutes. And they don’t have passports so they can’t get out.” 

The office in Gaza that issues papers to allow Gazans to apply for passports is closed, Mr Al Ostaz said. But he is liaising with lawyers to try to find a way to help his family get out of Gaza. 

Some 50% to 70% of Gazans do not have passports, he estimated.

His uncle, who does have a passport, managed to flee into Egypt through the Rafah crossing, but his hand was badly injured in a bomb attack while he was waiting to cross the border.

Mr Al Ostaz said that he has had to pause his university studies while he tries to process the trauma of the carnage in his homeland.

“I had to stop university for now. It’s so hard to run after your future when so many people no longer have a present. And they’ve lost their past.

All the places I had memories of are destroyed now. We smell the death everywhere. We hear about death every day. Our home is destroyed, gone.

“But thank God my family is ok. The house, we can build again.”

Minster for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation, and Science, Simon Harris said that children were disproportionately suffering in the war and the violence “had to stop.” 

“Whether you’re an Israeli child, whether you’re a Palestinian child, whether you’re an Irish child who’s been taken hostage, a child is a child.

“Children are unfortunately suffering in this scenario and it has to stop.

“You’re not going to get to a point of peace or security on the basis of what’s going on at the moment.”

Meanwhile, tomorrow Palestinian activists the Cork Palestine Solidarity Campaign (CPSC) and TDs will address a press conference in Cork to announce major protest demonstrations in Cork City and County.

The conference will be addressed by Palestinians living in Cork including Rola Hamed-O Neill who teaches in UCC and Izzadeen Alkarajeh of Palestinian restaurant Izz Cafe; Kathy Glavanis of CPSC; and TDs Donnchadh O’Laoghaire (Sinn Fein) and Mick Barry (Socialist Party).

Izzadeen Alkarajeh said that he will speak at the meeting to give a brief of the situation in Gaza and of the urgent need for help. 

“Things are very bad. The stock of food is finishing. There is no clean water, there are no medicines. Hospitals are out of service. There is nowhere safe in Gaza. Most people have members of their family lost to the bombardment.

“On the political level, we must put pressure on the Israeli Government to stop the genocide, to stop the random killing of people.”

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