- Texas man arrested for powder-letter hoax
- Islamic State opens ‘marriage bureau’ for single jihadists
- Drone almost blocks California firefighting planes
- Tornado rips off roofs, downs trees near Boston
- GOP: Environmental rules keeping agents from accessing border
- John Kerry: Millions displaced by religious fighting in 2013
- Federal appeals court rules against Virginia’s gay marriage ban
- White House says Russia ‘losing’ war in Ukraine
- Hamas turns to North Korea for weapons deal, Iran for money
- Syrian casualties surge as jihadis consolidate
American trying to get family out
Question of the Day
A Tennessee man is appealing to the State Department for assistance in bringing home his wife and children, who have been trapped in the Gaza Strip since Hamas took it over two months ago.
"I am trying to cope with the situation," said Hossam Bahour, a Palestinian-born U.S. citizen who moved with his family from Kuwait to the United States in 1981.
"I"m just praying they"ll be home soon," he said in a telephone interview. "Each day, I keep myself occupied by going to work because if I sat home and thought about it, I"d go nuts."
Mr. Bahour"s wife, Eman, and their three children — daughter Aml, 12; son Issam, 11; and son Mohamed, 6 — arrived in Gaza to visit Mr. Bahour"s mother on May 29, with the intention of leaving the area in mid-July. However, the Gaza-Israeli border was closed in June after Hamas militants seized control of the territory in several days of fighting.
When the Bahours" youngest son — scheduled to begin school in Nashville, Tenn., next week — fell ill with a severe stomach virus, the family attempted to cross the Israeli border last Friday so they could return to the U.S. for medical care.
Mr. Bahour said the family had hoped that the Israeli guards would let them through because they are U.S. citizens. But, he said, they were barred from crossing because they had not been issued a special permit by the U.S. Embassy in Israel.
After a five-hour wait at the border, Mr. Bahour said, the soldiers forced the family from the car and fired gunshots in the air as a "means of intimidating my wife and scaring our children."
Mrs. Bahour and the children took a taxi back to their temporary Gaza home, where they have remained since. Mr. Bahour said he talks with his family via telephone three times each day.
"I"ve been told it could be anywhere from one month to even one year before my family is allowed to leave the country," he said. "I"m getting conflicting answers from the American consul in Jerusalem and the U.S. State Department. It"s been very frustrating as I wait for a resolution."
State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said he could not discuss the case out of concern for the privacy of those involved, but "of course, we"re going to take a look at the situation and see if there"s anything that we might do."
Mr. McCormack added, "On a couple of occasions back in June, we went out to all American citizens in the Gaza and made it clear to them that we would help people get out. And in fact on two separate occasions, we did. ...
"It is important to note that we did act on behalf of American citizens to help get out those people who at those times wanted to get out," he said at yesterday"s daily briefing.
Israeli Embassy spokesman David Siegel said he could not comment without looking into the matter further.
An Islamic civil-liberties group has appealed to the State Department to work for the family"s release.
"We hope the family will have positive results very soon," said Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations.
"Anytime American citizens are restricted from leaving any area, it"s a serious thing. We are asking for assistance from our government to help these U.S. citizens return home safely and in a quick manner."
- White House says Russia 'losing' war in Ukraine
- Hillary Clinton: Forget Obama, George W. Bush made her 'proud to be an American'
- D.C. seeks to stay judge's order allowing gun owners to carry in public
- Illegal immigrants demand representation in White House meetings
- Iraqi Christians rally at White House: 'Obama, Obama, where are you?'
- EPSTEIN: All IRS roads lead to the archivist
- Border surge puts Obama legacy on immigration at stake
- Inside the Beltway: Republican posse rides out to fire Harry Reid
- Tactical advantage: Russian military shows off impressive new gear
- KUHNER: Will Russia-Ukraine be Europe's next war?
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq