First Minister’s relief as family escape
THE family of Scottish First Minister Humza Yousaf were among nearly 100 British nationals who yesterday escaped the worsening carnage in Gaza.
The SNP leader expressed ‘deep personal relief’ at learning that the parents of his wife Nadia – Elizabeth and Maged El-Nakla, from Dundee – had passed through the Rafah border crossing to Egypt.
On the third day of evacuations out of southern Gaza, 92 British nationals were on the list of individuals permitted to pass through the heavily fortified checkpoint.
Mr Yousaf’s family had been visiting relatives in the Palestinian territory when violence erupted in the wake of Hamas’s bloody rampage across southern Israel on October 7.
It is thought there are around 200 British nationals in need of rescue, with the Foreign Office under growing pressure to secure their safe passage as soon as possible.
Mr Yousaf said in a statement yesterday that he and his wife had endured a ‘living nightmare’ since the outbreak of fighting.
He continued: ‘Although we feel a sense of deep personal relief, we are heartbroken at the continued suffering of the people of Gaza. We will continue to raise our voices to stop the killing and suffering of the innocent people of Gaza.
‘We reiterate our calls for all sides to agree to an immediate ceasefire, the opening of a humanitarian corridor so that significant amounts of aid, including fuel, can flow through to a population that have suffered collective punishment for far too long, and for all hostages to be released.’
News for other British families was more mixed.
Ahmad Abou-Foul, a head and neck surgeon in Birmingham, is hoping 16 relatives can escape Gaza, including his parents, siblings, nieces and nephews.
Not all of their names were on the list released by Egyptian authorities yesterday morning. Dr AbouFoul said: ‘We had mixed feelings when we noticed that [some] of our family’s names were on that list to get to safety in Egypt... but there is a lot of heartache because on that list they didn’t recognise two mothers and two little ones, they didn’t have their name on the list, so it is very likely it will lead to splitting of the family.’
One of the family members, Tamer Abou-Foul, told the BBC yesterday: ‘I can’t tell you how exhausted we all are. We are completely sleep deprived and feel mentally ill.’
There was a third consecutive day of frustration for British teacher Zaynab Wandawi, 29, from Greater Manchester, and eight of her in-laws who were trapped in Gaza after attending a wedding.
Egypt is strictly controlling its borders, paranoid about an uncontrolled exodus of refugees and the national security threat of Hamas extremists disguised among them.