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The federal government suggests Palestinians escaping the war in Gaza “without explanation” of how they fled is a factor in their Australian visas being cancelled.

A number of Palestinians have been left stranded after their temporary Australian visas were suddenly cancelled.

The ABC spoke with 23-year-old Hani who arrived at Istanbul airport on the way to Australia when he was informed his visa was cancelled. 

Hani thought he’d escaped the horrors of Gaza

Finally escaping the horrors of the Gaza Strip and holding onto hope for some reprieve, Hani has found himself trapped in visa limbo.

Hani sitting listening to headphoens on the plane.

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“I left Gaza and decided to get out of the war and the bombing, and when I got my [tourist] visa to Australia, I kind of felt I was going to a better and safer place,” Hani said. 

“I was on the correct path. I didn’t do anything wrong.

“Maybe it’s like a political thing. I don’t know what is the problem.”

A spokesperson from the Home Affairs Minister’s office said that it had made a “strong commitment to assisting people who are trying to leave Gaza” but said it made no apology for “doing everything necessary to maintain our national security”.

“If people make it out of Gaza without explanation, or their circumstances change in any meaningful way, we will take the time to understand those changes before proceeding,” the spokesperson said. 

The government has granted more than 2,200 temporary visas for Palestinians, and 2,400 for Israelis since October.

The ABC understands most of the visas given to Palestinians and Israelis since October 7 are subclass 600 visas, in the sponsored family stream, allowing whoever applies to stay in Australia for up to 12 months if they have a family sponsor.

Has Australia always given visas to people in war zones?

Australia’s decision to grant visas for Palestinians has prompted a round of political bickering surrounding the processes that were followed.

The aftermath of Israeli airstrikes on the Jabaliya refugee camp in Gaza.

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On that temporary visa, you cannot work, or access education or healthcare — you are essentially a tourist, which is what people usually apply for subclass 600 visas for.

These particular visas are granted with the hope that those who have applied will be able to return to their home country, with character requirements in place for those applying. 

In cancellation letters — obtained by the ABC — some Palestinians have been told they never intended a genuine temporary stay in Australia. 

And it’s left many in the community distressed, confused and looking for answers.

Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong said the government had “successfully assisted the vast majority of Australian citizens, permanent residents and immediate family members wanting to leave Gaza”.

“As I previously said, all visa applicants undergo security checks and are subject to ongoing security assessments.”

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