Iraq welcomes first batch of wounded Palestinians for treatment

Twenty-seven patients with injuries or chronic diseases were flown to Baghdad from Egypt

Powered by automated translation

Live updates: Follow the latest on Israel-Gaza

The first group of wounded Palestinians from the conflict-ridden Gaza Strip has arrived in Baghdad to receive treatment at Iraqi hospitals, the country's health ministry said in a statement.

A total of 27 patients injured in the Israel-Gaza war and with chronic diseases, accompanied by 42 carers, were flown on a military aircraft from Egypt late on Wednesday, the ministry said.

They arrived at Martyr Muhammad Alaa Airbase, at Baghdad International Airport, where ambulances waited to pick them up.

Patients were seen emerging from the aircraft on crutches, in wheelchairs and on stretchers. Some of the arrivals had Palestinian flags and keffiyehs draped over their shoulders.

Health ministry spokesman Saif Al Badr told The National that the Palestinians' injuries included burns and fractured bones.

They range in age from 10 to 70 years old, Mr Al Badr said, and among the elderly are patients with chronic diseases such as cancer and kidney failure.

“There is no time frame for their staying and they will leave whenever they finish the needed treatment,” he added, saying Iraq is ready to receive more Palestinians.

At least 35,800 Palestinians have been killed and 80,011 injured in Israel's military offensive on Gaza since the outbreak of the war in October, the enclave's health ministry said on Thursday.

Vast swathes of Gaza have been levelled during the conflict. Hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced and the lack of basic needs has prompted fears of a humanitarian crisis.

Thousands of wounded and sick Palestinians have been able to leave for treatment in Egypt and other countries since late last year.

Iraq welcomes first batch of wounded Palestinians for treatment – in pictures

'Our life was beautiful before the war'

Among those who arrived in Baghdad was 13-year-old Mousa Mohammed Mousa.

Mousa crossed with his grandmother to Egypt in December, two weeks after two missiles hit a three-storey building in the Nuseirat area where they were sheltering. Six people were killed and 26 others from his family were wounded in the attack.

“I was sleeping when the explosion threw me outside the building,” Mousa told The National from his bed at Baghdad Medical City.

He received early treatment inside Gaza and then in Egypt for a broken pelvis and torn tendons in his right hand. He is likely to undergo plastic surgery in Baghdad.

“Our life was beautiful before the war,” he said. “We were going to schools, playing football, spending time by the beach and at restaurants but now devastation is everywhere,” he added.

In our entire life, we have never encountered a war of such ferocity
Ibtisam Kamil Al Amawi

His grandmother, Ibtisam Kamil Al Amawi, 56, added: “In our entire life, we have never encountered a war of such ferocity.

“It’s a genocide. As if they are telling us: ‘We want to kill you all,’” said Ms Al Amawi, who turned the TV on to live coverage of the war.

Next door, Reem Mohammed Abu Taha sat next to her 14-year-old daughter, Liyan. Two of her sons, aged seven and 17, were asleep in other rooms.

They were among 50 people inside a five-storey building in the Al Amal neighbourhood of Khan Younis, southern Gaza, when it was hit by four missiles in early December. Twelve people, including her 19-year old son, were killed.

Thirty minutes after the attack, they found Liyan under the rubble.

“She was in a coma and almost dead with shrapnel all over her body, brain bleeding and skull fractures,” Ms Abu Taha recalled, adding that her other sons also sustained fractures and burns.

She described Khan Younis as a “ghost city” where “no houses, no mosques and no hospitals remain, forcing all the residents to leave”.

Iraq is a staunch supporter of the Palestinian cause and has condemned the international community for not pressuring Israel to stop the war.

In March, the cabinet approved $25 million for the UN's Palestinian refugee agency, after international donors halted funding to UNRWA over allegations that employees were involved in the October 7 Hamas-led attacks on Israeli communities.

Updated: May 24, 2024, 11:57 AM