Nineteen South Africans who have been trapped in Gaza since the Israel-Hamas war broke out have returned home after being evacuated.
There were scenes of jubilation as the group — who have survived weeks of bloodshed and devastation in Gaza — were reunited with their loved ones at OR Tambo on Tuesday afternoon.
Before their plane touched down, Feroza Mayet told EWN that she is grateful her brother and two children have made it back home alive.
“My heart still goes out to the millions of other people out there who have no recourse in any way whatsoever, but their resistance and steadfastness inspire us.”
The Department of International Relations and Cooperation confirmed in a statement that the group, which includes 13 women, crossed over the Palestinian border into Egypt before flying home to OR Tambo.
“Six male and 13 female evacuated South Africans arrived safely in Cairo late on Monday night and are en route to South Africa to reach this afternoon,” Tuesday’s statement read.
The statement added that the 19 South African citizens were approved for evacuation on 11 November, but could not leave the war-torn country until this week.
“South Africa extends its gratitude to the Government of Egypt for granting the evacuated foreign nationals safe passage through the Rafah Crossing into its country.”
Since the start of the Israel-Hamas conflict on 7 October, over 15,000 Palestinians have perished, and over three-fourths of Gaza’s 2.3 million residents have been forcibly displaced.