‘They deserve to live in peace’: Mass. family speaks out after spending weeks trapped in Gaza

MEDWAY, Mass. — A Massachusetts family is speaking out for the first time since returning home earlier this week after they spent weeks frantically trying to escape Gaza amid the raging Israel-Hamas war.

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

In a statement shared with The Boston Globe, Okal said, “There is some getting used to [the return] to normal life...But mentally, I don’t think we’ll be at a safe point until we know the war has stopped.”

“The people in Gaza are humans. The innocent civilians are not happy about what’s happening, and they deserve to live in peace,” Okal added.

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.

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.

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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