A joint humanitarian effort between Egypt and Italy is reported to be underway, to bring over a hundred children injured in the Gaza conflict, for medical treatment in Rome.
According to the Vatican News Agency, the flights are being co-ordinated by the Vicar of the Custody of the Holy Land, with the agreement of Israeli authorities.
Under the plans, some of the most severely injured Palestinian children, whose treatment would be difficult or impossible in Gaza, will be brought to Italian children’s hospitals via Rome’s Ciampino airport.
Father Ibrahim Faltas, who has worked in the region for decades told the Italian paper, L'Osservatore Romano: "I have always followed and assisted families in Gaza, and they know of my intense relations with Italy. So they asked me, 'Can you do something to get some injured or seriously ill children out?' I immediately got to work with the Italian government institutions, receiving immediate enthusiastic consent. From there, an intense mediation activity began that involved Israelis, Palestinians, and Egyptians."
In total it’s hoped that 120 children can receive treatment from Italian teams, some will flown to Rome, and others will board the hospital ship 'Vulcano' on mission nearby.
The project is said to have been put together with great discretion. Specific flight dates and details have not been released. One issue still being negotiated regards the number of companions allowed to travel with each of the young patients.
The children are due to arrive first at the Catholic pediatric hospital, the Bambino Gesù Hospital, where president Tiziano Onesti, said: "In such a dramatic international context, facing situations of great suffering involving children, especially if injured or suffering from serious diseases, it is essential to be able to offer a response of care and welcome… as a sign of peace and hope.
“When the institutions asked us to welcome some Palestinian children with complex pathologies, we immediately said yes.
“It is the nature of our mission as a pediatric hospital that, in its concrete action, represents, as Pope Francis recently reminded us, a tangible sign of the charity and mercy of the Church."