Irish-Palestinian families to be separated at Gaza-Egypt border

Parents of Irish children told to expect ‘very difficult situation’ if foreign nationals allowed to leave Gaza

An Irish-Palestinian family trapped in Gaza has been informed that any members without an Irish passport will not be allowed to be evacuated to Egypt across the Rafah crossing with other international evacuees.

Ten members of the Alagha family are in Gaza, including five children under the age of seven. Three of the family members do not hold Irish citizenship, including the mother of two Irish children under four years old, the father of a four-year-old Irish child and a Palestinian woman who recently married a member of the family with Irish citizenship.

The family has been told by the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs that “only the details of foreign national/dual nationals will be accepted as part of the co-ordination process. This means that the details of dependent family members, spouses, or other family members will not be accepted by the relevant authorities to be cleared to leave Gaza.”

The statement continued: “We realise that this will lead to a very difficult situation for the family, should a further window for foreign nationals to leave Gaza become available.” On October 14th, a planned evacuation of foreign citizens and Palestinians with dual citizenship through the Rafah crossing was cancelled after Israel reportedly failed to guarantee safe passage, according to a UN source. So far, an estimated 2,200 people, including at least 700 children, have been killed by Israeli strikes in Gaza, which were launched in response to the killing of some 1,300 people in southern Israel on October 7th by Hamas, the Islamist militant group in control of Gaza.


The Department said that it “is in constant contact with a small number of citizens in Gaza and with all relevant authorities in respect of their cases. This is a complex and extremely fluid situation. It would not be helpful to comment further.”

It remains unclear whether the Rafah evacuation policy that excludes close dependents of foreign nationals was devised by Egyptian or Israeli authorities. The two countries have a close security partnership in relation to Gaza and together have imposed an all-encompassing blockade on the Palestinian enclave since 2007, when Hamas took full control.

In response to a request for comment, the unit for the co-ordination of government activities in the territories (known as Cogat), which is responsible for implementing the Israeli government’s policies in the occupied Palestinian territories, said: “Rafah crossing is not part of Israel” and that the Egyptian authorities should be contacted. However, Israeli assurances have been sought for the international evacuees to pass through Rafah crossing safely.

In a separate statement by Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Defence Micheál Martin released by the Department on Sunday, he said: “We are in contact with the UN and other partners on an ongoing basis on work to create humanitarian corridors from Egypt, to get vital supplies to civilians in urgent need in Gaza.”

The statement said: “International humanitarian law exists for a reason. Its overarching aim is to protect civilians; all civilians, everywhere. The rules are clear and they apply to all parties to all conflicts everywhere; state actor and non-state actors alike.”

The Egyptian embassies in Tel Aviv and Dublin were contacted for comment.