LOS ANGELES - As Israeli tanks make their way into Gaza, families in Southern California are scared.
Loay Elbasyouni, a Palestinian-American engineer who helped with NASA projects like the Mars rover, is spending most of his time trying to reach his father and mother. His parents were visiting their birthplace in Gaza when the war broke out.
The last time he heard from them, they were hiding with family members at an abandoned clinic where the now-retired surgeon used to work.
"No water, no electricity and no help from any government official" said Elbasyouni.
His parents hold passports from Germany, where they currently live. They were given a map to an evacuation route out of the war zone established by the Israeli government.
But they said the first group that tried that route was bombed.
There are about 1700 foreigners now stuck in Gaza, including about 600 Americans. People like Shamiss Kaoud’s father and uncle, who were visiting relatives in Gaza, now can’t get out despite carrying U.S. passports.
Their families watched the efforts President Biden made to evacuate hundreds of Americans from Israel when the war began.
Now they ask, "Why not Palestinian-Americans?"
State officials said they are negotiating to get the Egyptian side of the border open, but so far, there are no reports of people being able to get out that way.
The Council of American Islamic Relations LA office is calling on President Biden to "do for Palestinian-Americans in Gaza what he has done for Israeli-Americans in Israel – get them out!"
The Council said that the majority of the casualties in Gaza are civilians. They want a full stop to the Israeli attack.
"We went from phone conversations about vacation visits to how to identify their bodies," says a teary young woman, whose family members are hiding near central Gaza. "And that’s when we can get a call through, which is every couple of days, if we are lucky."