A Calgary man who has been stuck in Gaza finally made it home Thursday, reuniting with his family after more than a month of horror.
Tamer Abu Hassira was able to hug his wife and children again, after they greeted him at Calgary International Airport Thursday.
Just a few days after the Calgarian arrived in Gaza to visit his parents and siblings, war broke out between Israel and Hamas.
It was Abu Hassira’s first time in seven years returning to Gaza, and he made the trip primarily because his mother is sick.
The 43-year-old said they constantly feared they would be killed by bombs, and his friends say dozens of his family members have been killed since the war started in October.
He said he had several close calls, but on Tuesday, Abu Hassira was finally able to escape through the Rafah border in Egypt.
To date, 367 Canadians, permanent residents and their eligible family members have escaped that way.
“We still have 395 Canadians and permanent residents not including their extended family members stuck in Gaza,” said immigration consultant read Abusalim. “We were the last government to release their citizens from within Gaza.”
When Abu Hassira arrived, they asked where his mother was, but it was not communicated that he could bring his parents, so now they are trying to get them across.
Though he’s relieved to be home, he can’t shake the death and devastation he witnessed in Gaza.
“I’m safely here,” he said. “But what about my family? It’s not safe – no one is safe on the Gaza Strip.”
The Abu Hassira family at Calgary airport, Nov. 16, 2023
Abu Hassira exchanged hugs and some tears with his 14-year-old daughter Leemar and 11-year-old son Zein at the arrival gate.
“I feel so happy and I just missed him a lot,” Zein said. “I’m going to hug him every single day. I will smile every single day.”
Leemar expressed gratitude for the safe return of her dad, but also exasperation at the destruction of Gaza.
“I feel so happy – but also we don’t forget about our families there,” Leemar said. “And the cease-fires that are happening – no one is helping. There are a lot of people talking about it but we need help. They are bombing. Even after the war, there are no schools, no hospitals in Gaza. If there’s any school, if we build schools for them to go again, there are no children to go to universities. That’s not fair.
“They have treated us like animals,” she said. “We are people too. We need help too. Thank you for everyone helping get my dad here again so I can see him again.”
Calgary MP George Chahal met Abu Hassira when he arrived home at the airport.
Liberal MP George Chahal was also on hand to welcome Abu Hassira home.
“I think we need to stop the atrocities that are occurring in Gaza,” Chahal said “It’s horrific what has happened since Oct. 7 onwards, it’s horrific. This needs to end for humanity.
“There’s too many families’ children that are being lost with what’s been happening and I’m just so happy for Leemar and Zein to be with their father here today.”
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