Ont. girl, 8, stuck in Gaza coming home

Dr. Hassan Abuzaiter and his daughter Salma are in Gaza and the family is trying to get Salma home...

Dr. Hassan Abuzaiter and his daughter Salma are in Gaza and the family is trying to get Salma home to Brantford as soon as possible. (Photo courtesy of Wesam Abuzaiter)

Michael-Allan Marion, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:17 PM ET

BRANTFORD, Ont. -- Salma is coming home.

Eight-year-old Salma Abuzaiter, the local girl trapped for nearly two months in the Gaza conflict, will be put on a plane bound for Toronto, her excited mother Wesam told QMI Agency Wednesday night.

"I hope she is going to be home by Friday," she said.

Abuzaiter said she has been told by Canada’s Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada officials that consular staff in the war-torn region have arranged to spirit Salma out of where she is staying with her grandmother in Gaza and to another country on Thursday before a 72-hour ceasefire is due to end.

Abuzaiter has booked a flight leaving Amman, Jordan, at 3 a.m. Friday. If all goes according to plan, Salma will arrive in Toronto at 4:40 p.m. that day with family there to meet her.

Other than that, precise details are being kept under wraps.

"I will be so happy to see her," Abuzaiter said. "You can't imagine how hard it's been all this time."

She added officials made it clear that precise timeframe had to be observed.

"They didn't make it easy for me. I was told only today (Wednesday), and I had to scramble at the last minute to find a flight with a space available," she said. "But I followed their instructions, booked the airline ticket and paid for it myself."

Salma accompanied her father, Dr. Hassan Abuzaiter, in early June from Brantford to Gaza, where he works shifts at European General Hospital, to keep his medical licence in force.

But when Israeli forces attacked Gaza a few weeks later, Wesam Abuzaiter immediately tried to work with authorities to get the two out of danger.

With Dr. Abuzaiter planning to stay on duty at the hospital to save lives in the conflict, Canadian authorities were working to get Salma to safety.

Salma was being told by relatives that the light flashes and thunderous sounds of daily bombardments are celebratory "fireworks."

On Monday, Wesam, a pharmacist at Brantford General Hospital, told QMI Agency that efforts to that point had been unsuccessful.

"They have been there almost two months. So far, no one has communicated anything to me about their getting out," she said at the time.

Earlier this week, the Brantford Peace and Diversity Circle announced a Bring Salma Home candlelight vigil at City Hall on Friday at 6 p.m. Whether the vigil will be go ahead was still unknown.

michael-allan.marion@sunmedia.ca

Twitter.com/EXPMarion


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