Plymouth family returns home after being trapped in Gaza for weeks

A South Shore family of five is relieved to be home in Massachusetts after being trapped in the Gaza Strip for more than a month.

Hazem and Sanaa Shafai and their three children – ages 2, 10 and 13- traveled from Plymouth and were on a family vacation when the war broke out.

Speaking to reporters at Logan Airport on Tuesday, the Shafais said they wanted their kids to get to know their extended family and learn the culture.

They were in northern Gaza when things took a dark turn.

“We gave them books to read. We had some card games so when they heard the sounds, we would say just calm down. It’s going to be okay,” said Sanaa Shafai.

The family moved locations six times and stayed in several shelters to dodge the danger of airstrikes.

“When they say southern Gaza is a safe zone…there is no such a thing as a safe zone,” said Hazem Shafai. “Her cousin just got killed yesterday in a safe zone walking, trying to go get bread.”

The family survived for weeks with little food, water and medicine.

They traveled to the Rafah border crossing to escape six times before finally making it through on their seventh try.

The Shafais said they were initially granted permission to cross the border on November 4th.

However, they said their children were not because of a mistake on the Israeli customs list.

The bureaucratic error further delayed their escape by two days.

“I don’t feel the joy, but I feel safe and relief that my kids are safe,” said Sanaa Shafai.

The family arrived home on Tuesday after a 19-hour air travel journey, flying from Cairo to Paris and then to Boston.

They said they are grateful for the support from neighbors and politicians who called for their safe return.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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