First group of wounded Palestinian children from Israel-Hamas war arrives in United Arab Emirates

By Malak Harb, The Associated Press

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The first planeload of Palestinian children wounded in the Israel-Hamas war raging in the Gaza Strip reached the United Arab Emirates on Saturday, part of a pledged relief effort by the country to aid 1,000 children.

The group of 15 people, including children and their family members, made it across the Gaza Strip’s Rafah border crossing with Egypt on Friday. They then took a flight from the Egyptian city of El-Arish to Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE.

Young children lay asleep on their moms’ laps as the plane finally landed at Abu Dhabi International Airport. Some of the seats of the plane were removed to make room for the most critically wounded children, who needed to lie on stretchers.

Some of the young had bandaged arms and legs. Others sat quietly next to their parents or relatives. Some traveled alone. The mood was somber and quiet inside the plane. Many of the mothers said they were exhausted.

Twelve-year-old Amr Jandieh, his eyes welling up with tears, said he traveled to the Emirates alone.

“My dad, uncle, and I were talking on the street,” Jandieh said. “My uncle was killed. My dad was injured … all of a sudden a missile hit and I lost consciousness. I woke up and found myself in the hospital.”

Mohammed Abu Tabikh, 14, was one of the more seriously wounded children on the plane. He suffered injuries to his neck and spine when a car he was traveling in was hit in a strike.

“When I got injured, I felt shock. And then I stopped moving,” he quietly said before being brought carefully out of the plane.

Nabila Mahmoud traveled from the Gaza Strip with her 17-year-old daughter Rawan, who suffered a broken pelvis. Mahmoud said their house was hit by a direct missile and 13 of her family members were killed.

The war, now in its seventh week, was triggered by Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack in southern Israel that killed about 1,200 people. The militant group also abducted some 240 men, women and children.

Israel’s ongoing retaliatory military strikes on Gaza has so far killed more than 11,400 Palestinians, two-thirds of them women and children, according to Palestinian health authorities. Another 2,700 have been reported missing, believed buried under rubble.

The UAE — a federation of seven emirates on the Arabian Peninsula also home to Dubai — has diplomatic relations with Israel following a 2020 recognition deal.

Malak Harb, The Associated Press

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