Mahmoud Shaladan’s wife remains trapped in Gaza despite a visa to Ireland awaiting her in Cairo.

Ex-council worker pleads for wife’s release from Gaza

A former Cork County Council engineer has learned that his wife, who is trapped in Gaza, is still alive but has not been included on a list of Irish citizens and dependents permitted to leave.

Mahmoud Shaladan, a Palestinian born in Gaza and an Irish citizen, has been trying to make contact with his wife Abla, who is also from Gaza, for several weeks.

This week he finally learned that his sister, who is also in Gaza, had been able to speak with his wife, but due to electricity being cut off, he has not been able to speak with her himself.

Earlier this week, Irish citizens and dependents began to leave Gaza into Egypt after the Rafah crossing was opened, where they would meet with staff from the Irish Embassy in Cairo.

Mr Shaladan, who is now back in Cork having been forced to flee Gaza when violence broke out, was hoping that his wife would be permitted to travel to the Irish embassy in Cairo where there is a valid visa to Ireland waiting for her.

However, Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) told Mr Shaladan that, according to the authorities in charge of the Rafah Crossing, only the details of foreign nationals and their accompanying dependents can be added to list of those allowed to leave.

“Exit from Gaza is subject to the final decision of the relevant local authorities and inclusion in the coordination list does not guarantee that a given individual will be able to leave Gaza,” the DFA told Mr Shaladan.

“We acknowledge that the situation for civilians in Gaza is dire.

“We will be in touch if we receive information about an opportunity for your wife to leave Gaza,” added the DFA.

Mr Shaladan is now appealing to Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin to help him to free his wife from Gaza.

“The Irish passport holders are either out or due and she is not on the list of evacuees,” Mr Shaladan told the Cork Independent.

He continued: “She has just to wait and hope for cessation of hostilities, and the second hurdle is convincing the Egyptian authorities at the Rafah crossing that she has a valid visa to Ireland waiting for her in Cairo. Otherwise, we are in a deadlock situation.”

Mr Shaladan is calling on the DFA to do everything in its power to help his wife to travel to Egypt.