An American family from Tennessee is stuck in the Gaza Strip, unable to leave since the Islamic militant group Hamas took over in June - and advocacy groups say they are not the only ones.
Hossam Bahour, of Nashville, said his wife and three children have been in the Middle East since May 23, visiting family in Egypt and in Gaza, but that their efforts to return home or even cross the border into Egypt or Israel have been thwarted.
The U.S. State Department and the American consulate in Jerusalem have been asked to help, but nothing has worked so far, Bahour said Wednesday.
"My wife calls me every day crying, and the kids are stressed out and want to come back," said Bahour, a civil engineer who works for the Tennessee Department of Transportation.
Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations, said there could be 100 U.S. citizens who are similarly stuck in the Gaza Strip since Hamas wrested control of the area from the rival Fatah movement in June. But Bahour was the first to contact their organization, he said.
"The Israeli government won't let anyone out unless they have papers from the State Department. We're trying to get a hold of those papers," Hooper said.