UK Foreign Office scholar, who returned to Gaza to marry, killed in airstrike

An Israeli airstrike killed Dr Maisara Al Rayyes, his parents and sisters, after he had returned to Gaza this year to marry his fiancé. ITV News Correspondent John Ray reports

Dr Maisara Al Rayyes was one of the brightest and best of his generation. He should have been part of a Palestinian future.

Instead, he and his family were buried beneath the rubble of their apartment block in which they were sheltering from Israel’s advance into Gaza.

When his surviving brothers went back to try to retrieve him yesterday, witnesses say a second Israeli strike killed them too.

"I cannot believe he was killed in this way," his long-time friend, Hala Hanina, has told ITV News.

"It's hard to believe how awful and painful. How we are lost."

Dr Al Rayyes won a place on the prestigious Chevening Scholarship scheme to continue his studies – into women’s and children’s health – in London.

In September, he was among a group of Chevening graduates to meet the Foreign Secretary James Cleverly in Jerusalem. A picture of the group was posted to X, formerly Twitter.

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly, who had met Dr Al Rayyes just two months ago, said 'every loss of life is heart-breaking'

We asked Mr Cleverly whether the death of a man dedicated to saving the lives of others could be justified in Israel’s pursuit of Hamas.

He told us: "Every loss of life is heart-breaking. And there are people both Palestinian and Israeli who have lost their lives.

"That is why we are so focused on getting humanitarian aid into Gaza."

It is not an answer that satisfies Dr Al Rayyes many friends, who want Britain to pressure Israel into a ceasefire.

"It is inadequate," Ms Hanina told us.

"Maisara – and every Palestinian person I know - loved life. We have dreams and ambitions, but this life is not allowed us.

"This is an unlawful massacre – a violation of international law."

Dr Al Rayyes returned to Gaza to marry his fiancé early this year. She survives him.

In the days before his death, he sent a text message to a friend, speaking of his dread of being buried beneath a collapsed building.

"My feeling of fear is escalating," he wrote. "I imagine myself under the rubble and I feel terrified."

It was to be his fate, and that of many thousands of fellow Palestinians.

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