Israel Splits Lakeland Family

U.S. State Department Consular

For the past couple of weeks, a Lakeland family has been stuck in Palestine.

Wedad Yacoub traveled to the West Bank with 10 of her 11 children in June through Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion Airport.

But when they went to leave earlier this month, Israeli officials wouldn't let the mother travel back to the U.S. with all of her children. Yacoub said they let her return with her three youngest while the others stayed behind.

'I don't know what to say. I begged them, 'Please! Let them leave!' I was crying. My kids, they were crying. The other ones, they were crying. But they said, 'No. They can't leave with you. They have to go back and issue a Palestinian ID and they can go through Jordan. They can't leave through the airport'.'

Israel recently passed a law allowing authorities in that country to treat Americans with Palestinian heritage like Palestinian residents. When asked about the law, a spokeswoman for the Israeli Consulate in San Francisco told WUSF in her words 'there's something that doesn't sound right about this situation.'

However, the Israeli Consulate did not elaborate on what that means.

The Tampa spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations says the organization is working with the U.S. State Department and a local Congressman to cut through the red tape. Ahmed Bedier added that an airline has agreed to book the family on a flight Thursday.

'We're trying to appeal to the State Department and government officials to be able to work out some sort of compromise where they permit them to leave on that flight, which leaves tomorrow (Thursday) from Tel Aviv Airport. What we're getting back from the authorities so far is that most likely they will not make that flight.'

The children range in age from 11 to 22 years old. The family could go through Jordan to travel back home. But, it's possible Israeli authorities could turn them away at that border as well.

To access U.S. State Department Consular Information sheet click here.

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