These Aussies are miles away from family who remain trapped in Gaza. These are their stories.

Right now, there are thousands of Palestinian Australians who remain deeply worried for their loved ones stuck in Gaza. It's a situation no one ought to have weighing on their shoulders.

Neriman, her sister, and brother-in-law Iyad all live in Victoria. Iyad, who is an Australian of Palestinian heritage, has dozens of family members trapped in Gaza who are desperate to escape.

Neriman says it's been a devastating time for their whole extended family.

"The heart goes in the mouth when you hear about the things they have witnessed and endured. War happens around the world to everyday people. In this instance, it's our family. It's traumatic," she tells Mamamia.

Watch: The last hospitals in Gaza. Post continues below. 

Video via Al Jazeera.

In the past eight months, they have lost 33 members of their extended family.

Fourteen were killed in one night when their building was bombed. One cousin watched her four teenage sons arrested by the Israel Defence Force, and then released without charge after two hours of interrogation. As they walked away from their place of confinement, the eldest son was shot in the back of the head by a sniper and killed.


Another cousin, who is seven years old, remains in intensive care with shrapnel embedded in his head.

Family here in Australia though are clinging onto hope, after Iyad managed to secure visas for eight members of his brother's family to travel to Australia, where they can stay with his family in Melbourne.

The catch — it will cost them $97,000 to do so.

"There was a very small window a few months ago where the Australian Government opened up applications for temporary visas for a very low number of Palestinian people. We wrote out numerous applications, and then we were told eight of those visa applications had been granted. It does give some hope, but they're in a war zone so it's not a simple task to get them out of Gaza," explains Neriman.

In a bid to raise desperately needed funds, Neriman and Iyad have organised a GoFundMe. They're currently more than halfway towards their fundraising goal, but are hoping further generous donations will secure their family's safety.

First, Iyad's brother's immediate family needs to get to Egypt via the Rafah crossing. There is an extensive fee to cross this border, varying widely but currently estimated to be $8,500 per family member.

Next is securing temporary accommodation in Egypt. They would need to apply for Palestinian passports in Cairo because they don't own passports.


"Then once passports are secured, we need to organise flights to Australia. It's a step-by-step series of hoops and hurdles we need to navigate from the other side of the world," notes Neriman.

"My brother-in-law is carrying the burden of trying to secure visas for all of his family, and we're all trying to do whatever we can to get them to safety. All while this is happening, Iyad and my sister are still dealing with their own challenges at home. They're raising three kids, one of them is in year 12, they're dealing with cost of living, and trying to raise almost $100,000 to save half their family in Gaza."

Iyad's family who remain stuck in Gaza, fearing for their lives. Image: Supplied.


Iyad's family in Gaza have given permission for their words to be shared in this article too.

His 21-year-old nephew Abdullah says: "The war came and destroyed all my ambitions to finish my study and pursue my hope of becoming a neurosurgeon. I now always live in fear of death as it is not safe at all."

His 26-year-old niece Reham says: "I enjoyed my job helping women very much in the mental healthcare space, and then the war came and all my hopes and dreams were destroyed. I lost my job and my house was badly damaged, so I evacuated with my family to the south. I hope my normal life with my husband and child comes back, so we can build our future. My wish for my son is that he can play outside safely with other kids. I want him to live a normal life away from fear, anxiety and war."

It's stories like these that pull on the heartstrings, especially for Sydney woman Nagiha Sahyouni. So she decided to make a tangible difference.

Nagiha, along with two women — Sylwia Krolczyk and Tallita Ramos — created a GoFundMe for a dear friend of theirs.

Ameera, her seven children and her husband are in Gaza and are deeply concerned for their lives, especially for their youngest child. Eight-month-old Nour has been in very poor health since the start of the war, suffering serious complications from the surrounding conditions, polluted environment and the lack of medical access.


Due to further tests being unavailable at Gazan hospitals right now, it's unclear what treatment Nour needs to return to her usual bubbly self. It's been devastating for Ameera, says Nagiha.

"Nour has significantly red eyes, gastrointestinal bleeding and diarrhoea. She has also been vomiting bits of blood. They think she has a stomach infection. The hope is that medical referrals will allow her to be evacuated to Egypt, once the borders reopen," Nagiha explains to Mamamia.

Like Iyad's family situation, the cost to cross the border for Ameera and her family is similarly around $5,000 to $7,000 per person, and $2,500 per young child or infant.

While they wait for borders to open, Nagiha continues to raise funds for Ameera and Nour. All funds will support the medical treatment for Nour in Egypt and secure housing in Egypt. All remaining money will go towards bringing Ameera's husband and their six other children to safety too.

Baby Nour. Image: Supplied.


Nagiha and her GoFundMe co-creators, with the permission of Ameera, have since started an Instagram page where they provide regular updates on Nour's condition.

For Nagiha, she says it's been an "emotional rollercoaster", and wishes she could help her friend even more.

"There were three days recently where we lost contact with Ameera, and it was terrifying. We usually talk on the phone every day, so to not hear from her, I was so worried," she says.

"We are there with them in spirit. Ameera doesn't have much internet connection, so often she'll ask me for updates on the situation with the war. I choose to be the bearer of good news rather than bad news. Every time I speak with her, she asks if we are closer to a ceasefire."


Right now, Ameera and her family are sheltering in a tent in Khan Younis. It was arduous for them to get from Rafah to Khan Younis. Moving around at all in Gaza is highly precarious. Often it's done without any other option. 

They pray that eventually they will find safety and peace in Egypt. There is nothing left in Gaza for them — their house was bombed, their car destroyed, their lives changed irreparably.

Nagiha tells Mamamia: "Speaking with Ameera about the funds we've already raised, she gets emotional. She doesn't feel completely alone. To have friends, even if they're on the other side of the world, trying to make a difference — it really helps."

For Neriman, she says her family have taken some comfort in the support they have been receiving from the wider community.

"It makes me tear up, but to see people's generosity and their wish to try and make a difference means the world. We are all leaning on each other right now for support, and I'm sure Iyad takes some comfort in his faith too," she says.

"We can't control what's happening in a war. What we can control is how we respond to it and what we do on an individual level. It's important for people not to look away. It's up to us as humans to take action and to champion humanity. Together, we can all make a tangible difference in some way."

Feature Image: Supplied.