‘Incredibly thankful’: Massachusetts family finally returns home after spending weeks stuck in Gaza

MEDWAY, Mass. — In Medway, you don’t have took very far to see the sense the relief.

A Massachusetts family that had been stuck in Gaza for weeks amid the raging Israel-Hamas war returned home safely Monday, their lawyer said.

Abood Okal, Wafaa Abuzayda, and their one-year-old son, Yousef Okal, flew into Boston Logan International Airport after crossing into Egypt last week and are safe and sound at home in Medway.

In a statement, the family’s lawyer said, “The Okal family continues to be incredibly thankful for their family and friends around the world who spoke up on their behalf, the Medway community, the media for sharing their plight and the plight of the hundreds of other Americans trapped in Gaza, their elected officials who fought hard for their return, and the State Department for providing them with safe departure.”

The family had been trapped in Gaza since the renewed fighting between Israel and Hamas broke out on Oct. 7 while they were on vacation visiting family in the region.

“While the Okal Family is relieved to be home in Medway, their thoughts continue to be with their family, including both Abood and Wafaa’s parents, and the other innocent civilians who are still in Gaza, who may not have the same opportunity they had to leave and who continue to suffer from hunger, dehydration, lack of access to fuel and medicine, and intensifying air strikes,” their lawyer added.

Through voicemails provided to Boston 25, Abood chronicled the family’s struggles to provide proper care for their son and other family members. On Wednesday, Abood said he and his family had been rationing one single gallon of water among 40 relatives crammed into a single-family home in Rafah.

The Okal family said that they tell their story when ready.

Town Manager Michael Boynton said the town rallied around the young family as soon as it heard from their lawyer, that they were trapped in Gaza in the wake of the October 7th Hamas attack on Israel, and they could not a find a way out as Israel struck back.

“Clearly what they have gone through, is remarkable, to say the least. And we as a municipal organization, as a community are very, very happy they have made it back home, safe,” Boynton said.

Town officials say they worked with Congressman Jim McGovern’s office to try to secure safe passage for the family.

And in Medway, police kept an eye on the family’s home.

Chairman of Medway’s Board of Selectmen Glenn Trindale said international politics never entered into Medway’s decision to help.

“They’re one of us, they are part of our community, they are our neighbors, what can we do?” Trindale said.

At the family’s request, a vigil scheduled for last Saturday was canceled.

But now there is talk of a town celebration for them, a way to tell the family, the community is glad they are home.

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