2 medical workers from New Jersey among Americans trapped in Gaza

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Friday, May 17, 2024
2 aid workers from New Jersey among Americans trapped in Gaza
2 aid workers from New Jersey among Americans trapped in Gaza

NEW JERSEY (WABC) -- Two medical professionals from New Jersey are among a group of Americans who traveled to Gaza to provide emergency medical assistance but are now trapped and unable to return home.

Health care professionals from the the Palestinian American Medical Association arrived in Gaza earlier this month to provide help at the European Hospital in the outskirts of Rafah.

At least two members of the team are from New Jersey, including renowned plastic surgeon Dr. Adam Hamawy from Princeton and Ghada AbuKuwaik, a pharmacist from Paterson.

They are part of a team of nearly two dozen Americans on a medical mission trip who have been trapped since the Rafah invasion by Israel in Southern Gaza last week.

"I did hear from both of them and they have limited supply, not much food or water....and they're just not allowed to leave," colleague Heba Macksoud said.

The medical mission was only supposed to last two weeks. The team arrived with loads of medical supplies and have been providing treatment for the injured.

When they left the States, they were confident they would be able to get in and out because they entered through the Rafah Crossing from Egypt. They did not anticipate the crossing would be closed.

Friends and colleagues in New Jersey are desperately trying to rally support for U.S. intervention.

The White House says it is working to get everyone out. Hamawy said he is reluctant to leave during the fighting in Gaza.

"We are continuing to do the best that we can until we get more supplies and more resources so that we can change out," Hamawy said. "We aren't just hoping to leave, we're hoping someone else comes in to replace us."

New Jersey Rep. Bill Pascrel sent a letter to the Israeli ambassador saying urgent assistance is needed to get AbuKuwaik home.

"As soon as I heard that they were both stuck, I just wanted to help them to get back, I know that if it was me, I would want my friends and family to do everything to try to get me back," Macksoud said.

The doctors say the World Health Organization and the United Nations have been trying to secure safe passage.

"A few days ago, they said they wanted two people to go first and everyone wanted to stay," Hamawy said. "They didn't want to be the first ones out while everyone is still here."

Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth is also working to get the aid workers out.

She credits Hamawy with saving her life after her military helicopter was shot down in Iraq 20 years ago.

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