Bissan Eid returns to Canada after Gaza ordeal


Eid gave birth at a hospital in southern Gaza after Israel refused to grant her a permit to leave the coastal Palestinian territory

Bissan Eid, 24, landed in Montreal on 30 June with her infant daughter, Sarah (Photo courtesy of Hadi Eid)
Jillian D'Amours's picture
Last update: 
Tuesday 11 July 2017 9:19 BST

MONTREAL, Quebec – A Canadian woman who was forced to give birth in the Gaza Strip after being blocked from leaving the Palestinian territory has finally been reunited with her family in Quebec.

Bissan Eid, 24, landed in Montreal on 30 June with her infant daughter, Sarah.

“The siege on Gaza makes Palestinians’ lives miserable and inhuman,” Bissan said in a brief statement released on Monday.

“Let us continue to support the human rights of oppressed people everywhere and especially the Palestinian people who have been under Israeli occupation for over 70 years,” she said.

Eid gave birth on 11 May at a hospital in the southern Gaza town of Khan Younis after Israel refused to grant her a permit to leave the coastal Palestinian territory. She originally went to Gaza to get married.

Gaza has been under a strict Israeli-Egyptian blockade for several years.

Medical supplies routinely run low, the electricity supply is severely limited, and movement in and out of Gaza is strictly controlled.

Bissan had planned to leave Gaza through the Israeli-controlled Erez crossing and cross into Jordan, from which she would fly back to Canada. But the Israeli government refused to grant her an exit permit.

The Eid family had pleaded with Canada to intervene in the case.

Bissan’s father, Hadi, came to Canada in 2000 and he was granted Canadian citizenship in 2004. A year later, the rest of his family, including Bissan, also received citizenship.

“We are worried about Bissan,” her father, Hadi Eid, told Middle East Eye in late May, when his daughter was still stuck in Gaza.

“We are worried about her health, about her baby’s health. We need our daughter [to] come back and live a normal life here with us.”

The case drew the support of solidarity activists in Montreal, who lobbied for Ottawa to help bring Bissan back to Montreal, where she had been attending Concordia University as a master's student in engineering.

The Concordia Student Union issued a public call last month for Canadian lawmakers to do more, professors and students wrote letters of support, and an online petition garnered nearly 1,500 signatures.

Amnesty International Canada also wrote a letter to Israel’s ambassador to Canada, Nimrod Barkan, to urge the Israeli government to urgently grant Bissan an exit permit from Gaza.

“She deserves to have her rights fully protected, in particular her rights to health, to life and to freedom of movement,” the letter read.

Tadamon!, a Palestinian solidarity group in Montreal, criticised the Canadian government’s handling of Bissan’s case this week, saying Ottawa could have done more.

“It is difficult to imagine the Canadian government would have provided so little support and follow-up to any other Canadian citizen trapped abroad,” the group said in a statement.