Irish-Palestinian man with cerebral palsy arrives in Dublin, but father and brother left behind in Rafah

Hamza Hammad, who was born in Dublin in 1997 and carries Irish citizenship, left Gaza earlier this week with his mother, sister and brothers

An Irish-Palestinian man who has cerebral palsy has arrived in Dublin with his mother and siblings after leaving the besieged Gazan city of Rafah earlier this week.

Hamza Hammad (27), who was born in the Coombe Hospital in Dublin in 1997 and carries Irish citizenship, flew from Cairo to Dublin on Saturday with his mother Huda, his sister Razan (24) and his two younger brothers Shams (13) and Alam (17). The family managed to leave the city of Rafah on Tuesday after consular representatives from the Irish embassy in Cairo secured visas for the family to cross the border into Egypt.

Hamza’s father Isam, who has worked tirelessly to get his family out of the war-torn region, and his 19-year-old brother Ezzideen, did not secure exit visas and are still in Rafah.

“I’m very happy to be here but I wish my husband and son were with us to,” said an exhausted Huda Hammad as the family paused briefly in the arrivals area of Dublin Airport’s Terminal 1. “They’re just two alone in Gaza now.”


Asked if she was happy to be on Irish soil Razan, an artist, smiled and nodded before pausing. “Actually, not that much. I miss my father and my brother, I wish they were here.”

The family was met by representatives from the HSE and the department of housing at Dublin Airport. There were initial concerns Razan would be split up from her mother and brothers, but arrangements were eventually made for the family to stay together. However, as the family are not international protection applicants, they are now considered homeless and will be placed in homeless accommodation in Dublin until longer term arrangements are made.

The Hammad family’s Irish connection dates back to the mid 1990s when the family lived here while Isam studied electronics engineering in what was then Waterford Regional Technical College.

The family returned to Gaza in the 2000s, and in 2008, Isam became the regional manager for a medical equipment company. The family were living in Gaza city when the war began in October 2023 but relocated to city of Rafah where they lived in a small building with 46 other people and survived on a limited diet of canned beans, tuna and biscuits.

Despite his Irish citizenship, Hamza and his family were unable to evacuate before now, as Hamza has cerebral palsy and could not leave without his family’s support. Isam and his family contacted the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) in mid-November seeking assistance and were offered family reunion visas through Hamza, for Isam, his wife and two of their children who are under 18. His request that his 19-year-old son Ezzideen and his 24-year-old daughter Razan also be given visas was refused as they were considered adults.

Isam has seven children, two of whom are married and have their own families now. However, he refused to leave Ezzideen and Razan behind. Further pressure was put on the DFA after a Dublin woman and her neighbours in the south Dublin suburb of Rathmines heard about the family’s plight and started contacting local TDs, councillors and the media, calling for the whole family to be relocated to Ireland.

“They said from the start that they will not take children above eighteen,” Isam told The Irish Times via Whatsapp messages, adding that the family was surprised when his daughter was allowed to cross into Egypt. The knowledge Razan managed to leave Gaza made Isam “burst into tears. I was trying to find refuge for my daughter who I could not protect.”

The family briefly hoped Isam and his son would also get out after they were advised to return to the border the following day. However, they were refused permission to cross and returned to the city of Rafah.

Isam says his 19-year-old son has now “lost hope and is sitting on the mattress depressed and does not want to speak to anybody. I tried to calm him and raise his hopes but he is terrified that my name will appear on the list and he will be left here to destruction and death.”

Isam also underlined the “special relationship” between Hamza and Ezzideen. “Apart from caring for him over the previous years, during the four and a half months in war, Ezzideen has been the one who is looking after Hamza all the time. Last night he told me ‘dad, I’ve lost the blessing, I cannot imagine Hamza is not beside me.’

“I’m 58 and I never imagined this feeling of being away from loved ones like this. I feel really heartbroken.”

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Sorcha Pollak

Sorcha Pollak

Sorcha Pollak is an Irish Times reporter and cohost of the In the News podcast