MP Layla Moran's family among hundreds trapped in Gaza church targeted by snipers

Layla Moran tells ITV News of the desperate situation inside Holy Family Church and how she is worried her family members inside won't make it until the end of the week

Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran has said her relatives are among those who have sought shelter in a Catholic church in Gaza City which has come under Israeli sniper fire.

The UK's first MP of Palestinian descent said on Saturday that there were 300 people in the church and that people inside have run out of food and water.

She said the last remaining generator at the Holy Family Church complex, which had been pumping water, has stopped working.

Ms Moran said the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) have been firing at people who try to move between rooms in the building – keeping some family members apart within the site.

The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem said two Christian women – identified as a mother and daughter – were killed by sniper fire at the compound in northern Gaza, while seven others were wounded.

Smoke rises following an Israeli bombardment in the Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel. Credit: AP

Six people are reported to have died, including a bin collector and a janitor who were killed while coming and going from the site earlier in the week, according to Ms Moran's family.

Speaking to ITV News today, the MP for Oxford West and Abingdon said she was worried her relatives inside might not make it to the end of the week – let alone in time for Christmas.

"Anyone moving from room to room is being shot at. They are now in their rooms – no food, no water – with a sniper, with last I heard 24-hours ago, the soldiers at the gates, and honestly we are just desperate.

"It's a week to Christmas Eve, these are Christians in a church who went there to seek sanctuary. This is making a mockery of the assertion by the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) that they do not target civilians.

"They have known for two months that these are civilians. If they thought Hamas were there, they would have come earlier. There were no leaflets dropped, there was no prior warning – nothing. We are terrified for them, we don't know if they are going to last until Christmas."

Welcoming foreign secretary Lord David Cameron's call for a "sustainable ceasefire" in Gaza, she added: "If you don't stop this now, you are going to say goodbye to a lasting peace and two states forever."

Sharing an update on Sunday afternoon on X, formerly Twitter, Ms Moran wrote: "A tank has taken position outside the church and the building opposite has been taken. The people inside have died.

"There are snipers at every window pointing into the church. Still shooting anyone emerging from buildings to use eg toilets. Still no food or water."

The IDF launched its assault on Gaza following the October 7 attack by Hamas, in which 1,200 people were killed in Israel.

Health authorities in Gaza say over 18,700 Palestinians have subsequently been killed – the majority of whom were women and children.

The head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales has condemned the “seemingly deliberate and callous killing” of the mother and daughter. One was killed trying to carry the other to safety.

Archbishop of Westminster Cardinal Vincent Nichols said: “The information provided by the Cardinal, gives a picture of seemingly deliberate and callous killing by IDF soldiers of innocent civilians: an elderly woman and her daughter in the grounds of a church. This killing has to stop. It can never be justified. “I ask all people of faith and goodwill to continue to pray for an end to this conflict by all sides.” The statement from the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, whose territory covers Cyprus, Jordan, Israel and Palestine, said the women were killed in “cold blood”. “No warning was given, no notification was provided. They were shot in cold blood inside the premises of the Parish, where there are no belligerents,” it said.

Calling for peace on Sunday, Pope Francis said: “Unarmed civilians are being bombed and shot at, and this has even happened inside the Holy Family parish complex, where there are no terrorists but families, children and sick people with disabilities, nuns.” 

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