The first night footage that shows the start of the humanitarian operation to provide medical care for the children of Gaza arrived from Rome’s military airport of Ciampino on 29 January.
The first 11 minors and one adult, ill or injured during the massive bombings, were able to reach Egypt through the border crossing of Rafah, currently the only point of exit from the Gaza Strip, and from there board the plane for Ciampino.
One “step towards peace”
Fr. Ibrahim Faltas, Vicar of the Custody of the Holy Land, involved in the front line in this important moment, which he has defined a “step towards peace” was waiting for them, together with Antonio Tajani, the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs, General Francesco Paolo Figliuolo, the Palestinian Ambassador to Italy Abeer Odeh and many other civil and military authorities. Since the very beginning of the conflict, he has never stopped raising his voice to condemn and denounce the war, through all the means of communication and wherever he has had the chance: the horror of war that “causes pain for innocent civil populations and above all children” is his cry which has always been in unison with that of Pope Francis, who constantly repeats how “war is a negation of humanity.”
As the director of the schools of the Custody of the Holy Land, he has always been particularly attentive to children, their necessities and their needs. As a native Egyptian and with in-depth knowledge of the Middle East, he has played a central role in delicate diplomatic operations on numerous occasions, which this time as well have become concretized in the negotiations able to bring help to the children from the Palestinian enclave.
The encouragement of Pope Francis
“I met Pope Francis on 22 November 2023 in a private audience: I came away from that meeting encouraged by his attention and his paternal attitude,” fr. Ibrahim said. “Faced by the tragedy of these children, innocent victims of the conflict that is once again tearing apart the Holy Land, I immediately took action with the hospitals and with the Italian government, and straightaway received truly commendable agreement and participation from everyone.”
After last night, the hospital-ship Vulcano will also set sail for Italy in the next few days, to then await a new airlift in February. The Bambin Gesù in Rome, Roma, the Gaslini in Genoa, the Rizzoli in Bologna and the Meyer in Florence are the hospitals that will be taking the first children, but other healthcare facilities are also ready to provide the medical care necessary for the young victims of the conflict.
Sincere thanks to Italy
The Vicar of the Custody of the Holy Land does not hide his gratitude to the Italian people: “It is my duty to emphasize the help and the solidarity shown by the Italian people to the Holy Land: the Italians are offering not only words but concrete actions by people who are giving help from the bottom of their hearts and they do so with competence and care.”
“An important path towards Peace has begun,” fr. Ibrahim emphasizes once again, which is the only path to take: starting with help for child casualties we have taken the right road. Let’s look at the suffering of this injured humanity: grief and pain have no colour or even an identity card.”