Meet the international ladies living in Gaza towards all odds

Hundreds of international ladies reside within the Gaza Strip, regardless of the conservative society and totally different tradition than their very own. They determined to settle completely within the besieged enclave, regardless of all of the unfavorable circumstances.

Although actual figures are exhausting to return by, statements from embassies and foreigners living right here place the variety of non-Arab residents effectively above 1,000. Many of those that spoke to Al-Monitor got here to Gaza after marrying locals. They have managed to combine into Gazan society and usually have began a household. They lived by way of the Israeli wars which can be waged on Gaza and endure the a number of and complicated crises which have hit the enclave over time.

Elena Radwan is a violin teacher on the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music. She hails from town of Voronezh in southwestern Russia and graduated from a non-public institute for gifted musicians in Russia. She is married to a Palestinian surgeon, Issam Radwan, with whom she has three kids.

Speaking to Al-Monitor, Radwan stated, “After we got married we left Russia to settle in the Gaza Strip in 2005. At first, we stayed for some time in the city of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, and then we moved to Gaza City. At that time, I noticed that there were no music schools in the city and I started giving private violin lessons. After a while, I joined the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Refugees before starting work with the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music in 2006.”

She said, “I visit my family in Russia every two years. I hold Palestinian and Russian citizenship since Palestinian law allows for dual citizenship. My three children were born in Russia and they were granted Russian citizenship.”

Radwan told Al-Monitor that despite the cultural differences she feels comfortable in Gaza. “There was never a moment when I felt suffocated or estranged here,” she noted. 

Radwan has lived through the wars that were waged on the Gaza Strip. She said that the Russian Embassy at all times communicates with their nationals to safe their safety. “The 2008 war was very difficult. An apartment in the building where we live was targeted and we were forced to vacate our home. When the military operations stopped, we returned to our apartment and found it significantly damaged,” she stated.

In occasions of battle, foreign embassies reach out to their nationals inside Gaza to ask them if they want to leave. Embassies would contact the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which would set up a safe corridor that allows foreigners to move to the border crossing and travel to their country of origin.

Many foreigners, especially from countries that were formerly known as Eastern Europe — such as Russia, Ukraine, East Germany, Poland and Hungary — have relocated to the Gaza Strip, while young Palestinians leave Gaza to pursue their studies at the universities in those European countries. Many of them end up marrying women from these countries and returning to the Gaza Strip. The Ministry of Interior and director of foreigners affairs in Gaza have not provided exact figures to the media so far.

The media coordinator at the Russian Embassy, Tariq Alyan, told Al-Monitor, “The Russian Embassy supplies help to any international lady residing in Gaza — from the nations of the previous Soviet Union or Eastern Europe — if she requests help to travel throughout navy operations. As for the variety of Russian residents and their kids, there are approximately 1,200 Russian residents within the Gaza Strip. During the final battle, 200 Russian residents traveled to Russia and a lot of them have returned.” 

Svetlana Haddad is a Ukrainian Muslim lady from Vinnytsia and married to a Palestinian physician residing within the Gaza Strip with their six kids. She moved to Gaza in 1998 after she acquired married. Haddad has a grasp’s diploma in obstetrics from a Ukrainian college and has labored at Al-Quds Hospital in Gaza City, however she determined to remain home to lift her kids.

She informed Al-Monitor, “My husband’s family members are very kindhearted and helpful. They taught me to speak the local dialect and introduced me to the prevalent customs and traditions in the Gaza Strip. I quickly adapted to the conservative Palestinian society. This helped me adjust easily and overcome any difficulty I had leaving my own family and moving to another country with a different environment and culture.”

She stated, “Family ties in Palestinian society are very strong, unlike in Western societies; family ties are waning due to the openness and dynamics of society in Ukraine.”

Like all Palestinians, Haddad was affected by the humanitarian crises which have crippled all elements of life within the Gaza Strip. “I had my share of suffering from the acute power crisis and the lack of basic resources in the blockaded enclave,” she famous. “The last time I traveled to visit my family in Ukraine was in 2008.”  

Although international embassies facilitate the travel of their nationals in occasions of battle by way of a secure hall beneath the supervision of the ICRC, Haddad by no means left the Gaza Strip throughout wartime. The ICRC didn’t present Al-Monitor with any statistics pertaining to the variety of vacationers by way of such secure passages.

“The 2008 war broke out on my birthday, on Dec. 27. I wanted to stay with my family in Gaza, even though I was able to leave through the safe passage for foreign nationals at that time,” she stated. “The Ukrainian Embassy contacted us to secure our exit from the area of hostilities, but I did not leave. This scenario was repeated in the subsequent wars, but I always chose to stay with my husband, my children and my family here.”

She recalled how horrifying the offensives on Gaza had been, particularly for her kids who had been terrified by the bombings and the scenes of destruction and demise. “But I was brave and patient and endured all that,” she concluded.


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