A Sugar Land woman and her 20-year-old daughter are stuck in the Gaza Strip. The family is trying to get the two U.S. citizens out, but they are trapped at a border crossing with Egypt and unable to evacuate.
Mai Abushaaban, 22, told reporters that her mother and sister went to Gaza City to visit her sick grandparents. The war broke out during their visit, and Israel urged civilians in the Northern Gaza Strip to evacuate to the south ahead of attacks.
The two Palestinian-American women prepared for the worst ahead of the perilous journey.
“It’s something that I’ll never forget, saying goodbye to my mom on the phone, her sharing her banking details with me, where important things are. Things I should know about her finances. Just important things that someone that is going to die would share with you,” she said.
Abushaaban said they were often cut off from communication for hours at a time.
“I was a mess. I was like, ‘This is it. This is the end. I’m not gonna hear from them again,'” she said.
Many did not hear from their loved ones again, and dozens reportedly died after an evacuation route was bombed.
“When I finally was able to make contact with them once they had evacuated, I broke down because you don’t know why someone is not replying,” Abushaaban said.
On Monday, they remained stuck in Rafah, Gaza’s closed southernmost border crossing with Egypt.
Abushaaban said they are crammed into a two-bedroom apartment with about 20 other people.
The family has been in touch with the U.S. State Department, but Abushaaban said she has mixed feelings about their interactions.
“I feel like Palestinian Americans in Gaza specifically are somewhat being treated like second-class citizens,” she said.
Abushaaban also talked about the agony of attempting to use her mother and sister’s U.S. citizenship to get them out of the country and leave behind many loved ones.