July 22, 2024

A UK doctor trapped in Gaza could soon leave after being added to a list of British nationals, a friend and ex-colleague has said.

Ahmed Sabra, a UK citizen who holds a British passport, was visiting family in Gaza with his wife and three children at the start of the war.

His wife and children were allowed to cross into Egypt on Thursday, but Dr Sabra was turned away.

The Foreign Office said it was working to get all British nationals home.

Sarah Gretton, who worked with Dr Sabra in Swansea, told BBC Radio Wales Breakfast she had a message from him on Monday which said that “his name had made it to the list of British nationals eligible for evacuation.

“He is on his way to the Rafah border,” she said.

Thousands of foreign nationals have been making the same trip to the only crossing out of Gaza, but only those named on a list published daily by the Gaza Border Authority are allowed to cross.

Those on the list must be cleared by both Egyptian and Israeli authorities.

Ms Gretton said Dr Sabra’s supporters, including former colleagues at Morriston Hospital in Swansea where he was a registrar in cardiology, want to know why he was not on the list.

A Palestinian border guard checks the documents of dual nationals and foreigners as they wait to cross the Rafah border crossing with Egypt, in the southern Gaza Strip, on November 7, 2023,A Palestinian border guard checks the documents of dual nationals and foreigners as they wait to cross the Rafah border crossing with Egypt, in the southern Gaza Strip, on November 7, 2023,

Palestinian border guards had allowed Dr Sabra to travel to the Rafah border with his family, only for him to be turned away

“It seems so simple you know – the Foreign Office informs the agencies that he is a British national, his name should be added to the list, it should be published and he should be evacuated.”

“I just don’t know what has gone wrong since last Thursday, and that hasn’t been done.”

Hamas’s attacks on Israel on 7 October sparked the war. Hamas gunmen killed about 1,200 people and took 240 others hostage in its unprecedented cross-border assault it launched that day.

After a month of Israeli bombardment and nearly two weeks after Israel launched a major ground offensive into the territory, Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry said on Friday that 11,078 people had been killed, while 1.5 million had fled their homes.

In his messages Dr Sabra said he “would not feel reassured until he was back home”.

She called him “gracious, warm-hearted kind”, adding he was still facing the “agony of finding out how the rest of his family [still in Gaza] are and if they are still alive.”

His former colleagues at Morriston Hospital are due to hold a rally later on Monday in support of his safe return home.

The Foreign Office said it was working “round the clock to ensure all British nationals in Gaza who want to leave are able to”.

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