An Arkansas man of Palestinian descent is suing the U.S. government in an effort to have his wife and their two young children, both American citizens, evacuated from Gaza amid Israel’s war against Hamas.
The lawsuit filed on behalf of American citizen Ramiz Younis of Little Rock in the Eastern District of Arkansas on Monday says that his wife, Folla Saqer, a U.S. legal resident, their two-year-old son, Zain Ramiz Younis, and their eight-month-old daughter, Zaina Ramiz Younis, attempted to flee Gaza through the Egyptian boarder at the Rafah border crossing as recently as Sunday, “only to be turned away by the Egyptian authorities.”
“In fact, Falla had her passport stamped literally at the border just as the bombing from the Israel Government began,” the complaint says. “Because Israel threatened to bomb the area, despite her passport being stamped and being with her children, she was denied exit from Gaza. She abandoned multiple items such as luggage and a baby stroller at the border.”
The lawsuit implores defendants Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin to “use all resources at their disposal that are necessary and available, including but not limited to deployment of military ships, vessel and airplanes and/or contracting with private commercial ship liners and airline carriers to evacuate U.S. citizens from Gaza and return them safely to the United States or another nation outside of the warzone in the most expeditious manner available.”
As of Thursday, Fox News obtained a list of exactly 400 Americans cleared to leave Gaza “as soon as today.” Younis’ son and daughter, both U.S. citizens, are on the list, but the status of his wife was not immediately known.
The DoD declined to comment on the ongoing litigation Thursday, while State did not immediately return a request for comment. Younis’ attorney, Justin Eisele, confirmed to Fox News Digital that the children have been cleared to leave Gaza, “but not their permanent resident mother.”
“As you can imagine, a two-year-old and 8-month-old cannot cross the border alone,” he wrote by email.
In a post on X, Eisele added Thursday, “Ramiz wife was REFUSED exit at the border with her children.”
“My client’s wife and two children made it to the border in Rafah today, only to be denied. They were told the kids could cross, but she could not. Which made the crossing impossible. How are two tiny children supposed to cross the border? Crawl?” the attorney said.
National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters Wednesday, “We do expect to be able to get all our Americans out” of Gaza but admitted “it’ll take some time.”
“They are trapped abroad in the Gaza Strip in an active war zone under imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury,” the filing says of Younis’ family. “On information and belief, they are not alone among U.S. Citizens also in grave danger. However, they have lost any effective communication with the outside world.”
The lawsuit challenges the constitutionality of the U.S. government’s efforts to evacuate Palestinian-Americans from the active war zone in Gaza, alleging that the United States is carrying out “disparate treatment” by “currently evacuating” Americans “of different ethnic and religious backgrounds from the same region” and, therefore, has “impermissibly infringed upon the exercise of their fundamental rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
Of Younis’ wife and children, as well as other Palestinian-Americans, the complaint says that “their lives are in grave danger from ongoing military action and violence in which they are non-combatants.”
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The filing states that it “by no means an attempt to interfere with the armed conflict in Israel and Palestine,” and seeks only to compel government agencies “to initiate evacuation efforts and secure the safety and well-being of its citizens on equal terms to other non-combatants in the same war zone.”
In addition to the four family members, the complaint names Washington, D.C.-based American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee and the Michigan-based Arab-American Civil Rights League as plaintiffs.
Fox News’ Trey Yingst contributed to this report.