Laredoans share their Israel story, Polish agency recognized at city council meeeting

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Published: Nov. 21, 2023 at 10:43 AM CST
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LAREDO, Tex. (KGNS) - The fight continues in the Middle East between Israel and Hamas Militants, following a series of coordinated attacks on Israeli citizens on October 7th.

Back in October, KGNS reported that a group of Lareadons were among the Americans trapped in Israel.

Thankfully, they were eventually able to get back home safely—but not without some help from a special group of people.

At Monday’s city council meeting, they were able to share their story with city leaders and the community, and a special recognition was given to who they say was the reason they were able to escape.

What began as a religious experience for some Laredoans ended up as a war zone and a nightmare scenario.

One Laredoan, Gilberto De Leon, told us, “We went for a pilgrimage with 11 people, along with our priest from our parish in Laredo, and we settled on October 3rd. We started our pilgrimage, and then when the bombing started, it caught us by surprise like everybody else.”

Another member of the group, Ricardo Gonzalez, says, “We were making our pilgrimage, and we were walking down on one of the churches and the bombs started. They told us to stay in the shelters where we were staying and I guess that from there on out, we stayed there for about 7 days trying to get out of Israel.”

Panic quickly started to settle as these Laredoans realized getting out of Israel was not going to be easy.

They say paperwork to prove they were U.S. citizens was a major roadblock, but their saving grace was the Polish people they met on the pilgrimage.

“People that were from Poland, the tour guide was from Poland, so she did everything from over there and worked everything out. We were struggling, a lot of cancellations, a lot of issues, and nervousness because you did not know when to get out,” De Leon shared.

After getting out of Israel, Ricardo and Gilberto, along with the other 9 Laredoans began a 48-hour journey to return to the U.S.

They say with a lack of assistance from the U.S. government, the group credits their Polish friends for their safe return.

“We were given false hopes, they were telling us that, ‘we are getting you out of there tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow’, but I guess that by the 5th day, that’s when the lady from Poland called us if we were still there—which we were—and that’s when she said ‘I’m getting you out of there,’” Gonzalez shared.

On Monday, the city of Laredo recognized the agency that helped the Laredoans come back home.

Now that the 11 Laredoans are reunited with their families, they say it was an experience that they’ll never forget for the rest of their lives.

You can find the city council recognition here.

For more headlines. click here.