The Muslim community in Ireland has made an appeal to help a Belfast-born Palestinian whose wife was reportedly killed in Gaza.
The Chairman of the Irish Muslim Peace and Integration Council, Sheikh Dr. Umar Al-Qadri, hopes to obtain support for Khalid El-Astal, who is due to arrive in Dublin from Istanbul on Friday morning.
Dr. Al-Qadri said Mr. El-Astal’s wife, Ashwak Jendia, was fatally injured in an Israeli attack two days ago.
Mr El-Astal, an Irish citizen, worked as an IT professional in Saudi Arabia and hoped to return next month to visit his family in Gaza. He was born in Belfast and spent his early years attending primary school there while his father studied at Queen’s University.
His family – including his three brothers, all Irish citizens – moved back to Gaza when he was eight years old.
He met his wife Ashwak in Gaza and the couple have two children, Ali (4) and Sara (1), who are cared for by their grandparents.
None of the children currently hold Irish passports. His German-born wife was not eligible for Irish citizenship.
Since his marriage five years ago, Mr El-Astal, who has a master’s degree in theoretical physics, has harbored a desire to move to Ireland with his family.
He is due to fly to Dublin airport on Friday, where he will be met by an American friend and the Muslim community who hope to offer him support.
“It is a very difficult time for him at the moment and we are pleased to say we have secured him a week-long stay in Dublin. He can then make the decision to either stay here or move to Belfast, where he spent most of his youth,” said Sheikh Dr. Al-Qadri, who lives in Blanchardstown.
“We are now trying to provide him with emotional and psychological support for his arrival.
“We were told that Ashwak died in an attack but she would have survived had she had access to medical attention. There wasn’t even drinking water where she was.
“As you can imagine, Khalid is devastated by the loss of his wife, but is also very worried about his young children who are still in Gaza.”
In the appeal, Sheikh Dr. Al-Qadri: “As he returns to Ireland and his children are currently in the care of their grandparents, we need our compassionate community to come together and offer support to our brother in need.”
“Our Palestinian brother is currently without shelter upon his arrival. We ask anyone who is able and willing to offer temporary accommodation, or who is aware of available options, to come forward.
“Let us stick together as a community and provide the hospitality and warmth that defines us.
“The loss of a loved one in such tragic circumstances is of course a great emotional burden. Our Palestinian brother urgently needs psychological support during this difficult time. If any of us are qualified therapeutic counselors or have experience in providing emotional support, we humbly ask you to consider lending a helping hand to our brother in his hour of need.”