Palestinians’ visas reinstated after days in limbo

At least eight people fleeing Gaza for Australia have had their visas reinstated.

At least eight people fleeing Gaza for Australia have had their visas reinstated. Photo: AAP

Some Palestinians who had their Australian visas cancelled while fleeing the violence in Gaza, have had their documents reinstated.

It was revealed on Wednesday that a number of Palestinians attempting to reunite with families in Australia had their visas revoked en route, leaving them trapped in transit countries.

The government had recommended they apply for tourist visas as the fastest route out of their predicament, but they soon received emails telling them their permission would be cancelled because of a belief the applicants did not intend to stay in Australia temporarily.

At least eight of the 12 people supported by Palestine Australia Relief and Action (PARA) have now had their visas reinstated after the group’s legal team worked with the government.

Cabinet minister Murray Watt said the visas were cancelled when additional checks were undertaken, particularly in situations when people left Gaza without explanation.

But further information has then prompted these checks to be reversed.

“What we’re about as a government is making sure that the Australian community is kept safe – that we undertake proper security checks on people seeking to come to Australia,” Watt told ABC radio on Monday.

Asked if the government could have handled the situation better, Watt said: “We’re dealing with a conflict zone here”.

“At times different information will come to light and the bottom line is that we need to be making the best security-based decisions about providing these sorts of visas.”

One of the affected Palestinians was a journalist named Rami.

While travelling through Istanbul en route to Australia with his wife and three children, he was told that he and his partner’s visas had been cancelled.

But the children, aged two, six and ten could have continued travelling to Australia with their grandfather.

Refusing to part with their kids, the family was stranded in the Turkish airport until the government reinstated their visas.

While PARA board director Reem Borrows said the family was relieved, others remained in limbo.

Hani, another Palestinian receiving support from PARA has spent more than four days at an airport in Istanbul.

“We want to make sure that the process and systems are correct so that no one has to go through this again,” Borrows said.

“The good news is that the government is willing to sit down and work with us on every single case, to make sure that we rectify it very quickly.”

On October 7, Hamas – designated a terrorist group by the Australian government – killed 1200 Israelis and took another 200 hostage during a cross-border assault.

Since then, Israel has unleashed a bombing campaign and ground offensive on the besieged territory that has killed more than 31,000 Palestinians, displaced 1.7 million Gazans and pushed many to the brink of starvation, according to the United Nations and the local Hamas run health ministry.

On Friday, the Australian government announced it would reinstate funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees after a nearly two-month pause.

But the Israeli authorities have continued blocking aid into Gaza, Oxfam director Sally Abi Khalil said.

“Israeli authorities are not only failing to facilitate the international aid effort but are actively hindering it,” she said.

“Israel is failing to take all measures within its power to prevent genocide.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said he will continue the push into Gaza even as famine looms.


Topics: Palestine
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