5:13 pm ET, November 1, 2023
An 81-year-old woman who left the United States for the first time in 30 years is now trapped in Gaza, her family said.
From CNN’s Jason Kravarik and Jeffrey Cobb
The family of an 81-year-old Palestinian-American woman fears she may not survive if she is not evacuated from Gaza soon.
“She’s alive, but visibly losing weight,” said Tina Bizzio, a relative who spoke on behalf of the Bay Area family. “They still seem to have their spirits because they’re surrounded by family, which is a blessing, but the environment around them is in ruins.”
Bizzo said the elderly woman, who he did not identify for security reasons, had not ventured far from her California home in 30 years. In August, she visited her childhood home with her son, who lives in Gaza.
He is currently in Khan Yunis, 8 miles from the Rafah Crossing. The woman has tried to cross the border into Egypt several times since Oct. 8, and her family is disappointed that the U.S. government has yet to make a concerted effort to evacuate Palestinian Americans from Gaza, Bisso said.
“She ran out of medication and needed a refill, let alone finding something comparable to her needs,” he said. “[Not having] Clean water has also affected her.
The woman “moves between houses and structures to stay safe,” said Khasan Shami, an immigration attorney representing the family. He said he has filed a lawsuit against the US State Department on behalf of the woman’s family to compel the US government to take action.
“I can’t express how dehumanized and unequal we feel when we are told that we deserve full rights in this country,” Bizzio said. “When we dedicate our lives to the betterment of this country, our lives don’t matter.”
Bseiso says the family hoped they would ask US officials to go to the crossing, but “they’ve been told this before and it didn’t work,” he said.