Namibian citizens in Israel expected to safely return home today

Hertta-Maria Amutenja

Four Namibian citizens, who recently travelled to the war-torn Israel for heart surgery are safe, and they are expected to return to Namibia today.

Tamar Shapira, Director of International Relations at Save a Child’s Heart organisation in the country where the heart surgery procedure took place, told Windhoek Observer yesterday that the two children and their two guardians are safe.

Save a Child’s Heart is an Israeli humanitarian organisation that provides cardiac healthcare to children across the world. The institution was founded in 1995 and is based at the Edith Wolfson Medical Center near Tel Aviv in Israel, where a war broke out last week between Israel and Palestine with bombardments of buildings reported.

Shapira said the two children underwent lifesaving heart surgery in Israel and their lives were saved.

“While they were in Israel they were hospitalised together with children from different African countries, Palestinian children from Gaza and the West Bank, and Israeli children – all treated by the Israeli volunteer doctors. Save A Child’s Heart treated since its founding 7,000 children from 70 countries around the world, 3,000 of them are Palestinian children,” said Shapira.

She added that the children who are 1-year-old Anna and 5-year-old Emmerentina were in Israel with their mothers have now fully recovered and are set to return to Namibia tonight after receiving a “second chance at life”.

Shapira stated that Emmerentina’s mother, Joanna, expressed her relief and gratitude for the life-saving care her daughter received, mentioning how Save a Child’s Heart extends its support to children regardless of their origin or religion.

“At times I lost hope, but when I found out about Save a Child’s Heart I got my hope back. I feel relieved that my daughter received the life-saving care she needed. I was so surprised when I arrived to see that this Israeli organisation treaties children from Africa, Palestinians, Iraq and countries from around the world, regardless of religion or origin,” she said.

Earlier, concerns arose that the Namibian citizens might be caught in the crossfire of the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian armed group Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

However, the Executive Director of the Namibian Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation Penda Naanda, later confirmed that the citizens were in Israel for medical treatment.

The Namibian Government had also condemned the escalating violence, lamenting the loss of lives on both sides urged a de-escalation of the conflict, and called on both countries to cease their attack on each other.

“Namibia is calling on Israel to cease its attacks and refrain from engaging in provocative acts against the Palestinian people and to respect international humanitarian law,” said Naanda in the statement.

The ongoing conflict has seen the largest attack by Hamas against Israel in decades, resulting in over 800 Israeli and around 500 Palestinian casualties amid intense fighting and bombardments.

Israeli Defence Minister, Yoav Gallant, announced an impending total blockade on the Gaza Strip, including cutting electricity and blocking essential supplies.

Reports from Gaza’s Ministry of Health indicate that Israeli air raids since the Hamas offensive began on Saturday have claimed the lives of at least 510 Palestinians and left 2,751 injured.

While Israel has reported 800 of its citizens dead, with over 2,200 more injured in retaliatory attacks. Since the war started on Saturday, the Israeli military claimed to have targeted over 1,000 sites in Gaza, including devastating air raids on Beit Hanoun.

According to the United Nations, these strikes have left over 123,000 Palestinians in Gaza displaced.

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