MP Layla Moran says family members in Gaza are 'days away from dying'

British MP Layla Moran says members of her family are ‘days from dying’ as they remain trapped in Gaza church where elderly woman and daughter were ‘shot dead by Israeli sniper’

  • A gunman reportedly killed two and wounded seven inside the church complex

British MP Layla Moran has said members of her family are ‘days away from dying’ as they are trapped inside a church in northern Gaza where an elderly woman and her daughter were killed yesterday.

Two women, named as Nahida and Samar, were shot dead ‘in cold blood’ by an Israeli sniper while inside the grounds of the Holy Family Catholic Church in Gaza City, the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem said.

It said in a statement that a gunman had killed the pair at around midday on Saturday, revealing that ‘one was killed as she tried to carry the other to safety’. 

They had been given no warning and were killed as they were walking towards a convent ‘inside the premises of the Parish, where there are no belligerents,’ the church said. It added that seven more people were shot and wounded yesterday as they ‘tried to protect others inside the church compound’. 

Christian families have been sheltering in the complex since the war erupted, with members of Ms Moran’s extended family – a grandmother, her son, his wife and their 11-year-old twins – among the dozens taking refuge as battles rage outside. 

Liberal Democract MP Layla Moran said her family have been staying on mattresses along with dozens of others in the Holy Family Church since the early days of the war

Two women, named as Nahida and Samar, were killed ‘in cold blood’ by an Israeli sniper, the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem said

File image shows a man decorating a Christmas tree outside the Roman Catholic Church of the Holy Family in Gaza City on December 20, 2020

Ms Moran said her family have been staying on mattresses along with dozens of others in the Catholic church for more than 60 days.

MP Layla Moran’s family

Layla Moran is Britain’s first ever Palestinian MP.

Her immediate family are Palestinian Christians from the West Bank, while she has extended family members in Gaza City.

She has spoken about her family members being trapped in Gaza – and how she and her sister are trying to get news from their relatives every day as they run out of food and have been reduced to drinking water. 

Ms Moran’s mother Randa is Palestinian while her father James is British. He joined the EU Commission when she was one and the family moved to Brussels.

Her mother’s family are originally Greek but they moved to Palestine and then Jordan after the diaspora in the 60s. 

Her great-grandfather was the Palestinian writer Wasif Jawhariyyeh, who wrote memoirs about Palestinian life under Ottoman and British rule. 

A sixth member of her extended family in Gaza City – a grandfather – reportedly died last month after he was unable to reach hospital for medical treatment.

‘I’m now no longer sure they are going to survive until Christmas,’ Ms Moran, who has been in contact with her family over the weeks, told the BBC yesterday. 

She said earlier this week that her relatives had told her that two men – a janitor and bin collector – were killed by gunmen as they walked to and from the building.

Terrified of being killed themselves, people inside the church have reportedly been unable to collect the bodies, which have remained decaying in the street for days. 

The Liberal Democrat MP for Oxford West and Abingdon has been drawing attention to the plight of Palestinians trapped in Gaza amid Israel’s unrelenting bombardment of the enclave. 

She has spoken in Parliament about her extended family in Gaza City having their house bombed by the Israel Defence Forces (IDF), staying in a church and being ‘too old’ to flee the 25-mile strip. 

The latest reported deaths will add to fears for Christian Palestinians trapped in the church, and there has been outrage from around the world following Saturday’s attack.

Italy’s top diplomat Antonio Tajani issued a ‘heartfelt appeal to the Israeli government and army to protect Christian places of worship,’ writing on X: ‘That is not where the Hamas terrorists are hiding.’

Hammam Farah, a family friend of Nahida and Samar said on X: ‘This is a targeted death campaign during the Christmas season on the world’s oldest Christian community.’ 

A view of partially destroyed building belonging to Beshir family and located on Salah al-Din Road after Israeli attacks in Gaza City, Gaza on December 16

Civil defense teams carry out search and rescue operations under debris of destroyed buildings after Israeli airstrike in Rafah, Gaza on December 17

Gaza’s Christians are among the oldest established communities in the Middle East, with their origins dating back to the first century. 

But there numbers have dwindled since Hamas took complete control of the territory in 2007, falling from 3,000 to around 1,000, Al Jazeera reports.

The IDF has been approached for comment. 

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