Little help from UK government for British-Palestinian couple trapped in Gaza, son says 

LONDON: A British-Palestinian couple trapped in Gaza following Israel’s siege have received little help from the UK government, their son told the BBC on Thursday.

Naila and Talal El-Deeb, who live in London, were visiting family in Gaza when Hamas launched its attack on Israel on Saturday.

Mo El-Deeb said that his parents’ subsequent attempt to escape through Egypt was thwarted when an Israeli jet struck near the border.

He told the BBC: “They were instructed to go to the Egyptian border as their names were on some sort of list.

“When they got to the border there were about 5,000 people waiting in a queue. Within five minutes of them being there, there had been a strike on a building opposite the border.”

They were then evacuated and told the border would be closed for the “foreseeable future.”

The 30-year-old added: “Now they’re stuck. There’s no way for them to get out — we’ve tried every angle and there’s no real solution for them to leave Gaza.”

Naila had suffered a stroke since arriving in the territory, her son said. He added that his parents had “been sheltering in the dark with no electricity.”

The UK government scheduled evacuation flights for British nationals in Israel on Thursday, but those in Gaza are unable to cross the border.

El-Deeb said the British Embassy had told his parents to follow the advice published on the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office’s website, which said: “If you are a British national in Gaza and want to leave, check the status of the Rafah crossing into Egypt before you travel. Movement to the Rafah crossing and beyond is at your own risk.”

Citizens have been urged to register with the FCDO.

El-Deeb told the BBC: “I got sent a voice note this morning (Thursday) and you could hear bombs in the background.

“My parents are waiting to hear instructions from the Foreign Office (but) nobody seems to know.”

Saleem Lubbad, a Palestinian academic who has lived in London for more than a decade, is also concerned about his family in Gaza.

He told the BBC that Israeli airstrikes were a continual threat, and added: “The whole place is being carpet-bombed.

“We lost close family members — three cousins and an uncle. From my mother’s side we lost 14 people. An entire family was wiped out.”

He said that his family, which included two brothers and their children, had been displaced several times as a result of Israeli bombing.

He added: “There’s literally nowhere to go. I am desperately anxious over the fate of my siblings.

“At any minute we expect to learn that one or all of them have been killed.”

A Foreign Office spokesperson told the BBC: “The safety of all British nationals continues to be our utmost priority.

“The UK government has facilitated commercial flights to help British nationals wanting to leave Israel following the Hamas attacks.

“We are working with our international partners on the challenging security situation at the Rafah border crossing to keep the route open.”

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