'My husband is stuck in Gaza - I wake up each day not knowing if he's alive'

Jola Aljakhbir makes emotional plea for her husband Younis' safe return to Scotland as Israel-Hamas war enters 19th day.

The wife of a man trapped in Gaza while visiting his family has shared a desperate plea to the UK Government to bring him home.

Jola Aljakhbir said her husband Younis has been unable to leave the Palestinian territory amid Israel’s ongoing siege.

For days, Israel has seemed to be on the verge of launching a ground offensive in Gaza as part of its response to Hamas’ deadly October 7 rampage.

Younis, who works with Allied Vehicles, had been in Gaza visiting family for the first time in seven years and was due to return on October 12.

Jola, from Baillieston, said she fears for her husband and his relatives.

She told STV News: “When I go to sleep, I don’t know if my family is going to be alive in the morning.

“I check the civil register to see if their names are still there each day. I can’t just call them and make sure as there is no signal. There is a lack of communication for days sometimes.

“Some days there’s a little green tick [on our messages] meaning he was online, even for a few seconds. He doesn’t have enough signal to talk to me but then I know everything is okay and it makes my day.

“I’m a mess. I sit here and cry. It’s been dragging for days and days. We don’t know when this nightmare is going to end for us.”

Jola with Younis on their wedding day.

More than 5,700 Palestinians have been killed in the war, including some 2,300 minors, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry said. That includes the disputed toll from an explosion at a hospital last week.

The fighting has killed more than 1,400 people in Israel – mostly civilians killed during the initial Hamas attack.

Israel’s strict blockade has cut off 2.2 million people from food, water, medicine and fuel. Meanwhile, airstrikes have destroyed entire neighbourhoods, levelling homes, schools and mosques.

Younis is currently living in one house with all of his family in Khan Yunis, in the southern Gaza strip.

“Where he stays was heavily bombed despite assurance this is the safe area. No one is safe,” Jola said.

Younis has also met Elizabeth El-Nakla and her husband Maged – the parents of First Minister Humza Yousaf’s wife Nadia – near the Rafah border when it was due to open for a small batch of aid on Saturday.

Jola said she spoke with Elizabeth on the phone, who promised to keep in touch with her.

But she has demanded regular updates from the UK Government, calling for an immediate ceasefire, an evacuation and humanitarian aid delivered to the region.

“In general, I’m losing faith in humanity,” she said.

“The last two weeks make me feel that Europe is a very scary place. It might not be like Gaza, but we know what’s going on, our government knows what’s going on and they say nothing.

“They know people who call Scotland and England home are there – and what is the government doing about it?

“The people in Israel were evacuated very quickly and we are not getting the basic courtesy of daily updates.

Jola said she is 'trying to stay strong and fight' for Younis' safe return.

“The UK Government, by leaving them like this, they are risking their lives.

“I know Younis is literally fighting for his life over there, so I have to stay strong and keep on fighting for him.”

A UK Government spokesman said: “We are advising British nationals in Gaza to register their presence on the FCDO’s Travel Advice page. Any British nationals in need of help should contact the FCDO.

“We have been keeping in close contact with British nationals in Gaza and will continue to update them on the latest status of the Rafah crossing.

“The Prime Minister and foreign secretary have been in the region to push for the release of British hostages and foreign nationals, and the safe passage for British people from Gaza.

“For the latest information on advice for British nationals in the Occupied Palestinian Territories please see: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/the-occupied-palestinian-territories.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We are aware of Mr Aljakhbir’s plight. His family, who are understandably distressed by this dire situation, have been in contact with the First Minster. Scottish Government officials are also in contact with the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) about Mr Aljakhbir’s case.

“Mr Yousaf shares their deep concern at the unfolding tragedy in Gaza. The First Minister is urging the UK Government to do everything in their power to demand a ceasefire, to demand that humanitarian corridors are opened up to, again, allow supplies in, to allow people out.”

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