MP fears family in Gaza 'won't survive' one week before Christmas

By Isaac M December 18, 2023

An MP who has family members she says are trapped in a church in Gaza is worried they will not survive until Christmas.

Layla Moran told Sky News that around 300 people are trapped inside the Holy Family Church complex in Gaza City, including her five relatives.

After contacting her family today, the Liberal Democrats’ foreign affairs spokesperson said that they have been sheltering at the Catholic church for more than 60 days and that Israeli forces will not allow them to leave.

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She also said those sheltering at the church told her that the IDF have used white phosphorus in the compound, and a sniper killed two women who went into the courtyard.

The IDF have previously denied using white phosphorus in Gaza and said in a statement that no evidence shows the two women were killed by a sniper.

Ms Moran said: “We do not understand why this happening.

“We do not understand why they couldn’t have given warning if they were doing it. We do not know what the endgame here is.

“And my ask of the Israeli government is please leave my family alone, but I would also say it makes a mockery of the suggestion that the Israeli army is protecting civilians. They’re not.

“From what I’m hearing from these eyewitness accounts, they are targeting them. That is deeply concerning.

“It’s not for me to make a judgement on whether or not that is lawful in these awful laws of war, that’s for the international criminal court.

“But what I would say is as a family member, we are heartbroken, we don’t know if they’re going to survive and it’s a week before Christmas.”

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Relative died from dehydration

Ms Moran’s extended family – a grandmother, her son, his wife and their 11-year-old twins – are Christian Palestinians who she says fled to the Holy Family Church after their home was destroyed in an IDF bombing.

She told Sky News a sixth relative, her 81-year-old “family member’s husband, a grandfather figure as it were, the oldest of them all”, died partly because of dehydration while sheltering at the church.

The MP also said “we haven’t got a clue” how long her family will be in the complex, and added: “They’ve been there 60 days, so if there were Hamas fighters there I don’t understand why it’s taken this long to say anything.

“But there has been no warning, there has been no leaflet drop, there has been no phone call to the father or the priest.

“We know they have his number, because today, they did manage to contact the priest and say that between the hours of 2pm and 4pm this afternoon, they wouldn’t shoot at people.”

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Palestinians inspect the site of an Israeli strike on a house, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, December 16, 2023. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa
Image:
Palestinians inspect the site of an Israeli strike on a house, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, December 16, 2023. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

Pope speaks after IDF sniper ‘kills two’ in church

The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, an ecclesiastical office for the Latin Catholics across the region, also claimed the IDF killed two women at the Holy Family Church on Saturday.

In a statement, they said the women, which they identified as a mother and daughter, were walking to the Sister’s Convent when the shooting started.

“One was killed as she tried to carry the other to safety,” it said, adding that seven others were also shot and wounded in the attack at the complex.

The Pope lamented that “unarmed civilians are targets for bombs and gunfire” in response to the reports on Sunday.

During his weekly Angelus prayer, he said: “This has happened even within the parish complex of the Holy Family, where there are no terrorists, but families, children, people who are sick and have disabilities, sisters.

“Some are saying, ‘This is terrorism and war.’ Yes, it is war, it is terrorism. That is why Scripture says that ‘God puts an end to war… the bow he breaks and the spear he snaps’.”

The Israel Defence Force said in a statement to the BBC: “During the dialogue between the IDF and representatives of the community, no reports of a hit on the church, nor civilians being injured or killed, were raised.

“A review of the IDF’s operational findings support this.”

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