Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran has opened up about the “torturous” worry her family felt not knowing whether their relatives were “dead or alive” during a communications blackout in Gaza.
She has since learned they are safe “for now”, but she said the attitude of Gazans has changed from thinking about where to locate for security from Israeli shelling to considering “where do we want to be when we die?”.
Members of Ms Moran’s extended family, who are Palestinian Christians, are currently sheltering with around 100 people in a church in Gaza.
The Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokeswoman said her family members on her mother’s side had moved into the church after their home was bombed by the Israel Defence Forces during its retaliation for Hamas’s October 7 attack on Israel.
Contact was cut off after bombardments knocked out communications in the 25-mile strip late on Friday – a blackout that followed an Israeli blockade on water, food, fuel and other essentials reaching 2.3 million Palestinians who are effectively trapped.
Communications were restored to many people in Hamas-ruled Gaza early on Sunday, according to local reports.
Speaking to Victoria Derbyshire on the BBC’s Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg programme, Ms Moran said: “We are deeply worried for their safety.
“The 24-48 hours where the internet and everything else was cut was torturous.
“Not knowing whether they were dead or alive – we are worried for them anyway – I can’t tell you what that did to us as a family.
“We have heard since, because someone in the church has a foreign sim that can connect to the Israeli networks, has put out a message saying that, for now, they are safe.”
Ms Moran added on X, formerly Twitter, that she remains “petrified” for her family but “at least we know they are alive”.
She told the BBC: “Nowhere in Gaza is safe, and the conversation in Gaza, I’m afraid to say, has changed.
“No longer are people saying, ‘Where do we go to be safe?’ – the question they are now asking is ‘Where do we want to be when we die?’.
“This is not hyperbole, this is not just from them but their friends and family who we are in touch with. I cannot over-stress the situation.”
Ms Moran, who has been critical of the West’s handling of the Israel-Hamas conflict, is calling for a humanitarian ceasefire which she hopes can provide “political space” to “take the temperature down” and allow for peace talks to begin.
The Oxford West and Abingdon MP is not the only British politician to have family impacted by the war.
Scottish First Minister Humza Yousaf’s in-laws travelled to Gaza from Scotland prior to the conflict to visit family and are now trapped there.
He said on Sunday he had heard from Elizabeth and Maged El-Nakla, the parents of his wife Nadia, after having lost contact earlier in the weekend due to the blackout.
Israeli ground forces, including tank columns, pushed into northern Gaza over the weekend as Tel Aviv’s military continued to pound the territory from air, land and sea.
Published: by Radio NewsHub