TORONTO – A Brantford woman is hoping a renewed ceasefire in Gaza will allow her daughter to finally get home.
When Wesam Abuzaiter packed her 8-year-old daughter Salma off for a visit to her homeland she had few worries. Her husband Hassan, a doctor, was returning to Gaza to work in a hospital and Salma was going with him for the summer.
She would have a chance to stay with her grandmother and see the place where her parents were born: Gaza City.
The two left in June when the region was relatively peaceful – but in July the crisis exploded and the borders closed.
Hassan Abuzaiter was working 24-hour shifts at the hospital dealing with the wounded. His mother would tell Wesam not to worry, that the bombs were falling far away. When pressed for specifics, Hassan’s mother said she meant the next street over.
Communications with Hassan and Salma were sporadic and frustrating but they did make occasional contact via the internet.
Meanwhile, horrific images were being beamed out of Gaza of wounded and dead children.
“I was watching the news 24/7,” said Abuzaiter in an interview with Global News in her Brantford living room.
“The whole day and the whole night. Every line I was reading it. Because I was afraid.”
She launched frantic and frustrating efforts to get her daughter out of Gaza and reached out to Canada’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs for advice.
There were a couple of humanitarian convoys out of Gaza but Salma was too young to travel on her own and Abuzaiter’s brother was unable to accompany her because of his Palestinian citizenship.
News of the latest ceasefire allowed Abuzaiter to exhale.
“I was so happy. Yesterday night I can tell you was maybe the first time that I had a little bit of a sleep,” she said.
Abuzaiter hopes that the period of relative calm will allow her brother to get out to Egypt with Salma and bring her home to Brantford.