Posted: 21.11.2023 12:01:00

People — the main value

The President’s order has been fulfilled: 41 people have been evacuated from the Gaza Strip, which was engulfed in fire. These are citizens of Belarus, as well as members of their families.

The Belarusian side, in contact with colleagues from Israel and Egypt, as well as with the assistance of Russia and Qatar, carried out work to organize the exit of Belarusian citizens and members of their families from the Gaza Strip. This was reported by the Belarusian Foreign Ministry. As a result, more than 40 people passed through the Rafah border crossing into Egyptian territory.
At the border with the Gaza Strip, our citizens and members of their families were met by employees of the State Security Committee, who were carrying out the instructions of the President of Belarus to evacuate refugees. In the video published in the Telegram channel Pul Pervogo, there are frames in which they, addressing the rescued citizens, note, “As our Head of State said, the most expensive thing is bread, and the most expensive thing is people. Hang in there, this nightmare is over.”
Another video, which was also published on the Telegram channel Pul Pervogo, shows KGB officers handing over food packages to refugees.
Last Thursday at 11 o’clock an evacuation flight of Belavia Airlines took off from the Minsk National Airport to Egypt. There were also two doctors and two psychologists from a special response team Zubr of the Emergencies Ministry. They went to provide assistance and accompany Belarusian citizens evacuated from the military conflict zone.
“We take with us equipment for providing outpatient and emergency care, as well as equipment for monitoring and diagnosing diseases. This is not the first time we have taken part in such missions, so we will fulfil the leadership’s task in full,” said Yuri Geleklidi, chief specialist of the medical division of the Belarusian Emergencies Ministry’s special operations unit Zubr the day before.
The Belavia evacuation flight landed at Minsk National Airport late in the evening on Thursday, November 16th. There were 19 rescued adults and 22 children on board. The youngest was barely three years old. Despite the fatigue from the long flight, the passengers were smiling as they stepped off the ramp. To set foot on a land where there is no war is real happiness for them. 

‘It was very scary. We thought we were going to die…’

Svetlana Panasyuk returned to Belarus with her husband and three children. “The situation in the Gaza Strip today is very terrible. Every day it gets worse and worse. We fell asleep and thought: thank God we are alive. When we woke up, we thought about the same thing. We learned about the flight from friends, because communication there does not work — neither telephone nor Internet.”
Svetlana’s mother Galina was waiting for them in Belarus. She lives in Vaukavysk. On the day of arrival, the woman met her loved ones at the airport, “I cried all the time while they were there. I cried and prayed that they would survive and return here. And my prayers were answered. Now I won’t let them go back for anything.”
Svetlana says that the process of evacuation from the combat zone was very difficult.
“It was only when we left the Gaza Strip that we realised we were safe. It was especially dangerous at the Rafah border crossing. It is constantly under fire. When we were driving there with our family, they shot at us. It was very scary. We thought we were going to die,” Svetlana’s husband says.
The Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the State of Palestine to Belarus, Ahmed Mohammed Almadbukh, who arrived at the airport to meet a special Belavia flight, also told journalists about the difficulties of evacuating from the Gaza Strip, “The evacuation process is very difficult now. It depends on many factors. Including whether cars can move around populated areas. Because the main streets are blocked by rubble. Everyone makes their way as best they can. The checkpoint on the Palestinian side was completely destroyed. People evacuated as best they could. Everyone goes their own way, risking their lives: you may get there, but you may not get there...”
The diplomat expressed gratitude to our country for saving people, 
“We are very grateful to Belarus for saving the lives of these people. Staying in the Gaza Strip now is tantamount to death. You could say that these people were born again when they were saved. There are many children on board, and their lives are the most valuable. The most important thing is that now these people will have the opportunity to raise their children in a peaceful environment and wait for their grandchildren.”

‘At one moment there was nothing left’

Getting on the flight was a real salvation for many of those who arrived. After what they saw and experienced, some of them needed help. Chief specialist of the medical division of the Belarusian Emergencies Ministry’s special operations unit Zubr Yuri Geleklidi, who together with his colleagues accompanied the evacuation flight, told reporters about the outpatient care provided. According to him, people were depressed and worried. Psychologists worked with children.

Salah Erkaerk, who arrived on this flight, is not one of those who can be surprised by the sound of gunfire. He has already survived several armed clashes. But such a war, he says, has never happened: 
“It’s just awful. And it’s a miracle that we were able to get out of the Gaza Strip. Thank you! Our area in Gaza is completely destroyed. But my wife and I have worked all our lives, built apartments for our children, and opened a physical therapy centre. And at one moment there was nothing left — all our money, savings. There is nothing more. And we ourselves barely escaped,”  Salah says bitterly.
After their house was completely destroyed, they went to a refugee camp.
“A lot of people came there. Very. There was no light, no water, nothing,” the head of the family says.
Therefore, when the family learned that there was an opportunity to fly on a special flight, they decided to get to the border crossing, no matter the cost. And they succeeded.
‘I always knew: Belarus is like that, it will never abandon its people, never!’

The head of another family, the father of five children, Palestinian Ilnedi Mohammed, proudly says that his son is already Belarusian, just like his mother is Belarusian. He is incredibly glad to be on peaceful land, 
“Thank you! I am very grateful to the Belarusian people. We in the family did not rely on anyone more than on the President of Belarus. And these hopes came true. We had strong, reliable, good people with us. Thanks to them! Because where we lived there was death. At every step. Even when you are sitting at home, it is not safe. And only our President was able to save us.”
Alina Mahdi leaves the arrival hall not only with a happy smile, but also with a beautiful bouquet. The flowers were presented by the eldest son, who works and lives in Novopolotsk. The woman, along with her husband and two children, returned on an evacuation flight. She left the country 20 years ago, but did not lose contact with her homeland, often flew to relatives, 
“The President organised this flight for us. I always knew: Belarus is like that, it will never abandon its people, never! And the Motherland will forever remain the Motherland. She is the dearest and most beloved.”
Her son Mahdi Faris Nedal, a citizen of Belarus from Novopolotsk, thanks to the evacuation flight, was finally able to hug his mother, father and two brothers. “I was really looking forward to this moment. Thank God they are alive. I am sure that in our country they will be welcomed with open arms. We have an apartment in Novopolotsk. Let’s move them in with us. The main thing is that they arrived. I think the state will not abandon us. And I would like to say on my own behalf: many thanks to Aleksandr Lukashenko for his personal order. We are very grateful to him for this. If I saw him, I would hug and kiss him!”

By Svetlana Isaenok
Photos by belta