Medway family trapped in Gaza make their return home

Photo courtesy of MGN

By Audrey Coleman 


Medway family Abood Okal, Wafaa Abuzayda, and their 1-year-old son, Yousef, arrived in Boston on Monday, after previously being barred from leaving Gaza. They were visiting Abuzayda’s family when Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7, which ultimately extended their trip, as they were scheduled to leave Gaza on Oct. 13. 

Following the attacks on Oct. 7, the family fled to south Gaza when they were ordered to evacuate. The family attempted to pass through the Rafah border into Egypt multiple times, but were not permitted until Nov. 2. 

While trapped in Gaza, Okal recorded audio messages detailing the conditions his family was facing. He spoke of the conditions in Gaza, including the lack of food, water, fuel, and other resources. However, he often ended messages by expressing his hope for his family’s survival and eventual release. 

Medway officials are organizing a “Welcome Home” celebration for the Okal Family. 

Meanwhile, a second Massachusetts family is in a similar situation. Hazem and Sanaa Shafai, and their three children, of Plymouth, were also visiting family in Gaza on Oct. 7. According to Hazem’s brother, the family crossed the border into Egypt on Monday. The family is waiting for travel documents that will allow them to travel back to the United States.