Updated: Family of pregnant Quebecer stuck in Gaza implores Ottawa to help with exit docs

Updated: Family of pregnant Quebecer stuck in Gaza implores Ottawa to help with exit docs

Bissan Eid is seen in this undated family handout photo. The father of a Canadian woman who is eight months pregnant and trapped in Gaza is imploring the federal government to lobby Israel to help her get home. Hadi Eid says his daughter Bissan’s pregnancy is high-risk and she needs medical attention that can’t be provided in the territory. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO.

MONTREAL — A Canadian woman who is eight months pregnant and stuck in Gaza as she tries to get an exit visa says she’s just trying to stay positive.

“Since I’ve known I was pregnant, I’ve wanted to go back to Canada and give birth there,” Bissan Eid, 24, said in a telephone interview Thursday. “It’s safer for my baby and myself.

“I’m trying everything possible, my dad is trying everything possible. I’m trying to think positive.”

Eid, who says she’s unable to walk or stand for long periods, thought she had every reason to believe she’d be back in Canada last December in time to resume her studies at Concordia University.

Instead, the woman from Montreal’s south shore finds herself still trapped in Gaza and unable to get the exit permit from Israel.

“I thought since I’m Canadian that it would be easier,” Eid said, adding nobody has explained to her why she can’t obtain the visa.

Eid, a Canadian citizen since 2005, said she went to visit grandparents and get married in June 2016. It was her first extended trip after a 2014 visit was cut short due to war.

Supporters have launched a social media campaign at Concordia, where Eid earned an undergraduate degree and is working toward a master’s degree in civil engineering.

Her father, Hadi Eid, told reporters Thursday at the university’s school of community and public affairs he wants Ottawa to help persuade Israel to speed up the visa process.

“It’s not easy for us because we talk with Bissan every day, we are worried about her, we are worried something will happen to her in Gaza,” said Eid, a statistician for the Quebec government.

Her family say they’ve spoken to their local MP and sought the help of Canadian officials at the embassy in Tel Aviv, but to no avail.

“If Canada can arrange something for her, she can go out from Gaza by the help of the Canadian Embassy,” Eid said.

A spokesman for Global Affairs Canada said the department is aware of reports that a Canadian citizen is seeking help to depart Gaza.

“Consular officials stand ready to assist and provide updated information on how to leave the region,” John Babcock said in an email.

The department has advised against all travel to the Gaza Strip due to ongoing hostilities between Israel and Hamas — which controls the area.

The advisory also says the border crossings with Egypt and Israel frequently close unexpectedly and holding valid entry and exit permits doesn’t help in those instances.

Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press

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