Gaza: 'My wife died in five minutes, she was my life'

A man who grew up in Belfast has returned to Ireland after his wife and other family members were killed in Gaza.

Khalid El-Estal, 30, said he had been working in Saudi Arabia while his family remained in the Palestinian territory.

Gaza has been bombed by Israel as part of its conflict with Hamas.

Mr El-Estal said he had "lost everything" but is hoping his two young children can join him in Dublin.

"I want to take them out, I want word from the government. They are Irish," he told Irish broadcaster RTÉ on Friday.

His children, aged one and four, remain in Gaza with their grandparents, he said.

He added he feared for their lives without assistance from the Irish authorities.

'She was my life'

Mr El-Estal was born in Belfast and attended primary school in the Botanic area while his father worked as a lecturer at Queen's University.

When he was aged eight, the family relocated to Gaza, where Khalid met his wife, Ashwak Jendia, at university.

"She was my life," he said.

As violence in the region escalated last week, Mr El-Estal explained he urged his wife to move south and stay with his relatives, while he contacted Irish officials to seek help.

Khalid El Estal and family
Ashwak Jendia died from her injuries on Wednesday

"The exact day she [arrived] in my family's place they bombed the place," Mr El-Estal said.

The bomb killed his mother and brother "immediately", he added.

He continued that his uncle, and his uncle's two daughters - both doctors - were also killed in the blast, and both of Khalid's children were buried in rubble.

Ashwak was taken to hospital, eventually dying from her injuries, which included 60% burns to her body," he detailed.

"It's killing me," he said. "I lost everything, it's not only me, I am better than a lot of people in Gaza," Mr El-Estal said.

Now, he said he cannot bring himself to tell his children that their mother has died.

Israel began bombing Gaza after Hamas killed more than 1,400 people in Israel and kidnapped more than 200 others.

The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza said more than 9,000 people had been killed in the Strip since 7 October.

In a statement, an Irish Department of Foreign Affairs spokesperson said more than 8,000 foreign and dual nationals are in Gaza.

This includes thousands of dependent children who are entitled to dual citizenship in various countries.

However, the spokesperson said evacuations will take some time to complete.

"Time? Time means death. My wife died in five minutes," Mr El-Estal told RTÉ.

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