NEWS
08/05/2014 11:32 EDT | Updated 10/05/2014 05:59 EDT

Wesam Abuzaiter, Of Brantford, Ont., Seeks Help To Get Daughter Out Of Gaza

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Smoke and fire from the explosion of an Israeli strike rises over Gaza City, Tuesday, July 29, 2014. Israel escalated its military campaign against Hamas on Tuesday, striking symbols of the group's control in Gaza and firing tank shells that shut down the strip's only power plant in the heaviest bombardment in the fighting so far. The plant’s shutdown was bound to lead to further serious disruptions of the flow of electricity and water to Gaza’s 1.7 million people.(AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
An eight-year-old girl from Brantford, Ont., is in Gaza, and her mother is trying, from a distance, to persuade the Canadian government to help escort her to safety.

Wesam Abuzaiter said her daughter Salma went to Gaza with her father, a physician, in June. She’s staying with her grandmother.

The Canadian government issued warnings for citizens to leave the war zone on July 8, and even helped Canadians get home. But Salma’s father does not want to leave because he is involved in treating wounded civilians, Abuzaiter said.

“He is a dad and he is a health-care professional. So he is in a very difficult situation,” Abuzaiter said on CBC Radio’s As It Happens on Monday.

Abuzaiter is a pharmacist at Brantford General Hospital and said she deeply understands her husband’s conflict. But she worries for her daughter.

“I do worry a lot about her,” she said. “It’s a miracle that she’s still alive.”

'Life is valuable'

Abuzaiter has two other children, sons aged 12 and 10. She said the older one is more aware of the situation in Gaza, but Abuzaiter assures him Salma is fine and is coming home soon. 

“Why won’t your husband leave, and take Salma out of there and return home?” As It Happens guest host Laura Lynch asked Abuzaiter.

“He couldn’t. It’s easy to say that. But he couldn’t at all,” she said.

“He gave me many examples about kids that he was taking care of, and he gave them a second chance for living. You know, life is valuable, by all means. And these kids are innocent civilians.”

Abuzaiter has asked the Canadian government to register her brother, Salma’s uncle, and Salma’s name at the border crossing with Egypt to ensure their safe passage. She said the government has advised her instead to send her daughter on a UN bus to cross without a relative, she said.

She said she is unwilling to send her daughter without a family escort. 

Abuzaiter and her husband moved to Canada in 2009 from Qatar, where they'd been living previously. Both are Palestinian citizens, Abuzaiter said. 

"I came to Canada because it’s the land for human rights, for freedom," she told CBC Hamilton. 

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