Cairo – When Leila Bisso finally saw her name on the new list of 400 Americans approved to leave the Gaza Strip and flee the brutal war between Israel and Hamas to Egypt through the Rafah border on Thursday, she was deeply relieved at the thought of escape. The heavily bombed area continued with more concern.
The list was released by Gaza’s Hamas-controlled Interior MinistryCrossing the border into Egypt was approved on Thursday. But Bizezo, a Palestinian-American mother from Ohio, was surprised to find that her two young children were not among the listed names.
Bisso has three children. Hassan, the eldest, is 12 and has US citizenship, but his 7-year-old brother Mohammed and 10-year-old sister Nata were born in Gaza. They do not hold US passports. Palestinian border officials have let Laila Biseiso and her three children through their border gate, but she and the children are now waiting in Egypt’s waters.
Pizzo was under the impression that the US State Department was going to allow immediate family members to travel with US passport holders. A October State Department Report “US citizens and their immediate family members will continue to work urgently with Egypt and Israel to help them safely leave Gaza and travel through Egypt to their final destinations,” he said.
Wednesday, CBS Newswho was waiting to cross the border, and said the State Department had issued its directive that “US citizens and family members will be assigned specific departure dates to ensure an orderly crossing.”
A Palestinian-American mother, Biseiso, called the US Embassy in Cairo several times in an attempt to clarify the situation of her children. Embassy officials told Bizezo that they had sent the names of her children to the Egyptian government in an attempt to allow them to leave with her.
“They only took my two children’s names that weren’t listed, and they told me, ‘If you want to wait, that’s up to you,'” Bizzio told CBS News on Thursday. “I told them, you know, it’s dangerous to go back and cross the border, it’s my fifth time here, it’s easy to come here, nothing is certain, I don’t know what to do.”
“It’s ridiculous to expect a mother to leave without her children,” Bisso said.
Bizizo traveled to the Rafah crossing with her large family, hoping they would all travel together to Egypt and then to the United States, but she was left alone with her children in the waiting hall, not knowing what would happen next.
When he arrived in Egypt, he was greeted by US embassy staff. They completed her children’s paperwork and they were allowed to enter Egypt. Through the border crossing, the family began traveling by bus to Cairo.