Montreal-area family's hopes to leave Gaza dashed again

A Quebec man's hope of soon being reunited with his family have been dashed as Egypt has closed its border for a religious holiday, leaving his wife and three daughters stranded in Gaza.

Ola Elgadi and 3 daughters trapped by Egyptian border closing in August

Ghassan Elgadi is asking the Canadian government to help his wife and three daughters leave Gaza, where the family has been stranded for more than two months. (Marie-Claude Cabana / CBC)

A Quebec man's hope of being reunited with his family have been put on hold again as Egypt has closed its border for a religious holiday, leaving his wife and three daughters stranded in Gaza.

Ghassan Elgadi​ said his wife, Ola, took their children to Gaza last August to see her ailing father, in spite of warnings by the Canadian government discouraging travel to the region.

While they were there, Egypt closed its border with Gaza in response to a deadly attack on an Egyptian military base, stranding the family.

Elgadi ​said he hoped the family would be able to cross the border sometime this weekend, however, he said there will be at least another two-week wait because of closures for a religious holiday.  

"Their system is closed. Friday they close, every day they close. National holiday, they close, so I'm desperate for help from the Canadian government," said Elgadi.

Elgadi said the only communication he has had with his wife over the last two months is through a spotty internet connection, and two of his daughters have been sick and unable to receive medical attention.

Little help from Canadian government, says Elgadi 

Elgadi said he has received very little help from the Canadian government so far getting his family across the border.    

Ola Elgadi and her three daughters (pictured) are stranded in Gaza after Egypt closed the border. Their father, Ghassan, said two of the daughters had been sick and unable to receive medical care. (Ghassan Elgadi / CBC)

“One single call I had from a Canadian embassy in Egypt. They called my wife one time, maybe one minute or two, and that's it,” said Elgadi.

"I don't need nothing from this government. All I need is just to talk to the Egyptian border, put her name, let her cross. That's all I need." 

Elgadi said he has also received a few general emails, but only in response to his own.

A spokewoman for the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs said the government is aware the family is stranded in the Gaza Strip but that Canadian officials have very limited ability to intervene.

“The entrances to and exits from the Gaza Strip are under the control of Israeli and Egyptian authorities, and borders may close without warning,” said an emailed statement from ministry spokeswoman Claude Rochon sent to the CBC.

“Canadian consular officers remain in contact with family members and are providing assistance.”

However, Elgadi did meet with Majid Hajri, an assistant to New Democrat MP Jamie Nicholls.

Hajri assured him that Nicholls will take up his family’s plight with Foreign Affairs officials, in the hope that they will treat the case as urgent.


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