Layla Moran, the Liberal Democrat representative for Oxford West and Abingdon, is the first Westminster MP of Palestinian descendant. She describes herself as British-Palestinian, through her mother’s side.
Speaking to ITV’s Good Morning Britain on Tuesday morning, she explained how she – and the rest of her family – are “desperately worried” about the wellbeing of her Gaza-based relatives amid the Israel-Hamas war.
While her immediate family lives in the Palestinian territory of the West Bank, her extended family members are currently seeking shelter in a church in Gaza city after an Israeli bomb hit their home.
Tel Aviv announced war on Hamas after the Palestinian militants massacred Israelis in an unexpected attack 10 days ago. In the days since, more than 1,400 people in Israel and more than 2,800 people in Gaza have been killed. Hamas is also said to be holding around 200 people hostage.
Moran repeatedly said that her family were just ordinary civilians, and told GMB: “I don’t believe it is right that my family are being held accountable for what Hamas have done.”
After Moran had recounted the difficulties her family are facing, Madeley asked: ”With your family connections in Gaza, did you have any indication of what was going to happen ten days ago? Two weeks ago?
“Any word on the street?”
After a slight pause, Moran replied: “Not this. Everyone – everyone – has been surprised, partly the timing and sophistication, the way that it’s happened.”
She added that she and other MPs have warned for years that there needs to be a resolution between the two sides in the region.
She said, “this is a cycle of violence,” and said the current conflict was “radicalising another generation”.
Moran also spoke at length about the suffering people in Gaza were going through under the Israeli siege.
She said: “My concern is not the electricity, it’s the food, it’s the water – they’re drinking dirty water – it’s only a matter of time, this humanitarian crisis is only going to get worse and worse.
“This siege that Gaza are under needs to stop. They should not be paying this price.”
Tel Aviv has called for all Palestinians based in the north of Gaza to move south ahead of their anticipated ground offensive.
However, critics have described this as an impossible ask, because it would mean 1.1 million people have to evacuate despite having no means for extensive travel.
Moran said that the Palestinian territory is “essentially an open prison” – a phrase also used by the United Nations – and so people cannot easily move around within it.
The MP said her family do not feel it is safe to relocate either, due to the ongoing air strikes from Israel.
She added: “Anyone who has got any kind of link at all, whether it’s friends, family, in that part of the world right now, wake up on a morning like this.... you don’t sleep, wondering if they’re OK. ”
Moran said she’s been trying to get updates from her relatives, but their phone batteries are running out.