Inverness doctor's family are trapped in Gaza and have nowhere to go

Dr Salim Ghayyda is desperately trying to help his parents, brothers and sisters flee the area.

An Inverness doctor fundraising to help more than 20 members of his family escape the war in Gaza says there’s nowhere for people to go if a ground offensive on the city of Rafah is launched by Israel.

Dr Salim Ghayyda, who has lived in Inverness for 11 years, says he’s desperately trying to help his parents, brothers and sisters flee the area.

His 14-year-old nephew Ashraf was killed in Gaza by a bomb.

Dr Ghayyda’s parents, brothers, sisters – and their children – are crammed together in a flat in Rafah after being forced to flee their homes.

The paediatrician, who works at Raigmore Hospital, has been fundraising to try to help them escape the country. He has raised around £20,000 but says it’s an impossible situation.

Smoke billowing in the southern Gaza Strip on Tuesday.SAID KHATIB / Contributor via Getty Images

Dr Ghayyda told STV News: “I am saying to my parents: ‘Do you want to leave?’ But imagine, I am choosing them over my brothers, sisters, and their children, and they are declining to leave because they are saying: ‘How can we leave our daughters and sons?’ If they are going to die, we are going to stay and die with them’.

“I am in the most difficult situation anyone can find themselves in, where I am having to choose which members of my family I am helping to evacuate – if I can.”

The bombing of Gaza has continued following the Hamas attack on Israel in October.

Talks involving US President Joe Biden and other countries are ongoing to try to thrash out a six-week ceasefire ahead of what’s thought to be a planned ground offensive in the city of Rafah, where more than a million civilians have taken shelter.

Dr Ghayyda says his family are surviving in the most basic of conditions.

He said: “Sleeping has been taken away from them. Eating has been taken away. Drinking clean water has been taken.

“Do they shower and have baths? No, they don’t and if they do it, it’s once every six weeks if they can collect enough water in a bucket to boil.”

Dr Ghayyda hopes a ceasefire can be achieved as surrounding areas have been flattened by bombing and there’s nowhere suitable for the displaced to move to.

He said: “Everyone is a tragedy. Every story is carnage. And I don’t think any of us can even begin to imagine the level of suffering they are going through.”

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