Syrians stranded in Gaza since 2012 - in pictures

No way out for refugee mother and son who arrived in Palestine through tunnels

All photos: AFP

Gaza may seem an unlikely destination for those fleeing conflict.

The coastal Palestinian territory has been blockaded by Israel since 2007 when Hamas took power, and access to the enclave is tightly controlled by Israel and Egypt.

A refugee of the civil war in Syria, Lina Moustafa Hassoun, 52, arrived illegally in Gaza via a tunnel at the end of 2012 with her son Nawras, 24, above.

The Egyptian army began destroying some underground tunnels that year and demolished many more in 2013.

Israel says Hamas uses tunnels to smuggle weapons and other materials to attack Israelis, and that the blockade is essential to contain threats.

A Palestinian who formerly lived in Syria, Ms Hassoun said she came to visit her sister and intended to stay for a month.

But mother and son were stranded when the tunnel they came through was closed. Their travel documents have also since expired.

"Life in Gaza is very difficult, It is impossible to travel and work. There is no stability there (in Syria) or here," she said.

Her son films videos for another Syrian refugee, Warif Qassem, above, a chef who gives cooking lessons via his channel on YouTube.

Together with other Syrian refugees in Gaza, Mr Qassem, 41, founded an association to advocate with Palestinian authorities and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

Last year, UNHCR extricated nine Syrian families from Gaza via Tel Aviv.

Mr Qassem said he was grateful for the hospitality showed by Gazans and appreciated their cuisine, but said their situation was complicated.

"We do our best to get around the challenges," he said.

Updated: December 16th 2021, 10:28 AM