Britons desperate to escape Gaza as they are left stranded at border

The despair of Britons desperate to escape Gaza as they are left stranded at the border with Egypt

  • British teacher Zaynab Wandawi has been waiting at the border with her family
  • She says her optimism to escape Gaza is not as high as it was, but she is hopeful 
  • Up to 200 British passport holders thought to still be in the Palestinian territory

British nationals desperate to escape Gaza were left in despair yesterday after learning their wait to enter Egypt would continue.

A second tranche of foreign nationals were permitted out of the region through the heavily fortified Rafah Crossing, but many British names were not on the list.

Up to 200 British passport holders are thought to still be in the Palestinian territory which has been pummelled by Israeli air strikes for three weeks.

Israeli and Egyptian authorities have a list of British nationals and their dependants, yet other nations have been prioritised in the two days since the border opened.

For some British families, the situation is becoming increasingly precarious. British teacher Zaynab Wandawi, from Manchester, has been waiting anxiously at the border with her family, having attended a wedding just days before fighting broke out.

People unpack boxes of humanitarian aid from a truck that entered the southern Gaza Strip from Egypt via the Rafah border crossing today

Palestinian border guards check the documents of people leaving Gaza as dual national Palestinians and foreigners prepare to cross the Rafah border point with Egypt

Speaking to the Mail last night, Ms Wandawi’s sister, Esma, said the family had a place to stay close to the border, but added: ‘She is without water, and with very little food. We have been optimistic when we heard the border was open but on the first day no British nationals were able to come out, and then we read that the first to leave on the second day would be British nationals and that too was incorrect.

‘So the optimism isn’t as high as it was, but we remain hopeful.’

Ahmad Abou-Foul, 36, a surgeon from Birmingham, said he had 16 family members waiting to cross the Rafah border into Egypt. They include his parents, two brothers and a sister. He said: ‘It is a daily struggle. All 16 of them are crammed in a small room in an alien territory in Rafah where they have no family or anyone.

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‘Over three weeks they’ve moved to six or seven different places. They are really struggling to get food. It’s really hard for them to even get drinking water.’

Mr Abou-Foul spoke to them yesterday. He said: ‘They were really frustrated. They were like, ‘why can’t we get out. We were expecting to get out because we are a very young family’. They were very frustrated because they had very high hopes.’

He added: ‘The main thing from my end is that I feel really helpless – there’s nothing I can do to help.’

Yesterday, it was confirmed two UK aid workers managed to leave the Gaza Strip as it continued to be reduced to rubble by Israeli bombardments. The Foreign Office said more UK nationals were able to cross into Egypt yesterday, but declined to say how many.

Hamas has claimed that the ferocious siege – launched by Israel in response to the terror group’s bloody rampage on October 7 – has killed more than 9,000 Palestinians. More than half of the population in the densely populated enclave are now thought to be displaced, while hospitals lack the electricity and fuel needed to arrest the spiralling death toll.

Egypt is strictly controlling who is permitted to cross over its borders, paranoid both about an uncontrolled exodus of refugees and the national security threat of Hamas extremists.

So far, it has limited it to gravely injured Palestinians and foreign nationals.

The scenes of carnage have led Britain to call for more aid to be urgently allowed into Gaza.

Up to 200 British passport holders are thought to still be in the Palestinian territory which has been pummelled by Israeli air strikes for three weeks. Pictured: British Embassy staff at the crossing today

Palestinians with foreign passports at Rafah Border Gate were pictured continuing to cross into Egypt today

A second RAF flight arrived in Egypt yesterday, carrying equipment to support aid agencies, as part of a convoy expected to deliver equipment including forklift trucks and lighting tower generators to the region. The equipment will be set up close to the Rafah Crossing.

Separately, Border Force officers have been sent to Cairo, while specialist teams are bolstering the British presence close to the border, including a group of British Red Cross psycho-social experts. Cabinet minister Michelle Donelan said the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary James Cleverly were continuing efforts to get more Britons out.

‘The Foreign Office have said that some people have managed to get over that border and we are anticipating that there will be more coming,’ she told GB News.

‘There is a list of people that are British nationals – 200, I believe is the figure that I have – and our focus is on getting them out as quickly as we possibly can.’

The Foreign Office said last night: ‘We can confirm that more British nationals have been able to cross into Egypt from Gaza via the Rafah Crossing today. 

‘We continue to work with Egyptian and Israeli authorities to support all those seeking to leave in the coming days.’

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