Belfast man Khalid El-Estal reunites with his children in Dublin, overcoming the Gaza conflict tragedy. Highlights Ireland’s involvement and Mary Robinson’s peace efforts.
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Dublin Airport: A Site of Reunion
In a poignant moment of reunion, the children of Khalid El-Estal, a Belfast-born man, are set to meet their father at Dublin airport.
This event marks a significant turning point after the tragic loss of their mother and other family members in Gaza.
Journey Through Adversity
Ali, aged four, and Sara, just one year old, embarked on a journey from Egypt after being granted passage through the Rafah border crossing.
Their father, Khalid El-Estal, faced an agonizing wait.
He was in Saudi Arabia for work when the devastating news of his wife’s death reached him.
The tragedy extended beyond his immediate family, with his mother, brother, uncle, and two cousins also perishing in a bombing in Gaza.
El-Estral’s Resolve Amid Sorrow
Faced with immense grief, Mr. El-Estal expressed his determination to BBC News NI.
“It is hard for me, but for my wife, I will take care of the children,” he said, highlighting a painful reality: his children might not retain memories of their mother.
Roots and Early Life
Born in Belfast, Khalid El-Estal’s early years were spent in the Botanic area.
His father, a lecturer at Queen’s University, later moved the family to Gaza when Khalid was eight.
He met his future wife, Ashwak Jendia, there at university.
The Conflict in Gaza
The situation in Gaza worsened following Hamas’s attacks on 7 October, leading to a large-scale bombardment by Israel.
The conflict resulted in staggering casualties, with the Hamas-run health ministry reporting over 12,000 deaths, including more than 4,500 children.
In a significant operation, the Irish Department for Foreign Affairs facilitated the evacuation of 50 people from Gaza through the Rafah border crossing.
This included the first Irish citizens and their dependents arriving at Dublin Airport on Saturday.
Political Responses and Appeals
Tánaiste Micheál Martin welcomed the successful crossing of some families at the Rafah checkpoint.
Concurrently, former Irish president Mary Robinson co-signed an open letter to US President Joe Biden, advocating for a ceasefire in Gaza and a new vision for peace.
However, Mrs. Robinson pointed out the challenges posed by the current leaderships of both Israel and Palestine, criticizing the Israeli government’s stance and emphasizing the need for a balanced perspective on the conflict.
Mary Robinson: A Voice for Peace
At 79, Mrs. Robinson, a former Irish president and UN high commissioner for human rights remains a staunch advocate for justice and peace.
Her visit to the region alongside former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon deeply impacted her.
She underscores the importance of Ireland’s moral voice in addressing the occupation’s injustice while acknowledging Israel’s right to self-defense.
Conclusion: A Father’s Love Amid Conflict
As Khalid El-Estal prepares to embrace his children at Dublin Airport, his story encapsulates the profound human impact of conflict and the unyielding strength of parental love.
His journey from Belfast to Gaza and back to Ireland is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit in the face of unimaginable loss and adversity.