SoCal family among Palestinian Americans pleading for evacuation of relatives in Gaza

Anabel Munoz Image
Saturday, October 28, 2023
Families of Palestinian Americans stranded in Gaza plead for help
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Families of Palestinian Americans stranded in Gaza plead for help

Six Palestinian-American men embarked on a family trip to Gaza. For some of them, it was the first in decades.

"Despite my mother's pleadings otherwise, my dad promised my mom it was safe and that they would be back in a month," said Helal Kaoud.

Loved ones say their communication went from vacation updates to proof-of-life check-ins.

"We hold our breath every day. Waiting to hear from our family to hear that they made it through Israel's airstrikes to see another day," said Kaoud.

The Kaoud family is among the roughly 600 Palestinian Americans that the U.S. State Department estimates are trapped in Gaza.

"Some families have been completely erased off the face of the earth. Some children are being orphaned and others are being killed in front of their parents. We are watching a genocide unfold before eyes with our families in the middle of it," said Kaoud.

More than 7,000 miles away from Gaza, in Southern California, the daughters describe relentlessly calling on U.S. officials for help.

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"No one is listening. No one is helping. It's as if nobody cares," said Shamiss Kaoud.

On its website, the State Department states officials are working on potential options for departure from Gaza for U.S. citizens. But the Kaoud family continues to wait.

"We are begging the U.S. government to help facilitate a ceasefire to save our family and all the other Americans and Palestinians in Gaza," said Helal Kaoud.

They described the life their fathers made in Southern California. Jamal Kaoud worked as a civil engineer.

"He helped build many of the bridges and buildings you see around in Southern California. Our father has been a U.S. citizen for almost 40 years. And right now he is fighting to get back home," said his daughter, Shamiss Kaoud.

"Our father is 60 years old and has a heart condition. He has a pacemaker and defibrillator implanted in his chest to resuscitate him if his heart stops. He is running out of medication that he relies on," she added.

Hussam Ayloush, executive director of Greater Los Angeles Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-LA), said he has lost hope in President Biden doing the right thing.

Ayloush said it has it has been heartwarming to see the support for Palestinians from U.S. Americans of all backgrounds, including Jewish community members.

"We still have faith that maybe if enough Americans raise their voices in support of these families to say, 'every human life matters. Every human life is sacred," Ayloush said.