It was supposed to be an ordinary trip to visit his mother, but Middle East politics got in the way.
Hafez Almbasher, a Boca Raton resident with a green card, was visiting his mother, a Palestinian who lives in the Gaza Strip, back in April.
But Almbasher never imagined what would happen two months later: the Battle of Gaza.
Hamas — considered a terrorist organization by the United States, Israel, the European Union and Japan — beat ruling party Fatah in a bloody, nine-day conflict, taking over the Gaza Strip on June 15.
The borders were shut down. And since June no one can exit or enter Gaza, not even through Egypt.
Almbasher, an auto mechanic who supports a family of three, has been stuck in Gaza ever since.
And his wife and daughter, along with the South Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), have been appealing to the U.S. government and Israel to get Almbasher home.
CAIR held a news conference at its offices in Pembroke Pines on Wednesday hoping media attention will help get Almbasher home.
The challenge is difficult as the Palestinian-born Almbasher, who has been living in the United States for more than 20 years, never became a citizen and only has residency status. . .
“My husband has traveled frequently in past years to Gaza to visit his family, and was always able to leave without incident, but he never anticipated this,” said Deborah Almbasher, referring to the June take over by Hamas.
Her husband is on emergency evacuation lists, his wife said, but he is given low priority because he is not a U.S. citizen or traveling with a minor.
Altaf Ali, executive director of the local chapter of CAIR, said getting Almbasher out of Gaza is critical as the region is extremely dangerous and repressive.
“You are looking at a situation that can go from bad to worse,” Ali said.