Watch: Palestinian woman who lost 10 members of her family in Gaza war calls on PM to stop arming Israel

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Wafaa Shamallakh describes how she lost 10 family members across three generations in Gaza.

A British-Palestinian woman who lost 10 members of her family in Gaza to an Israeli airstrike is calling on Rishi Sunak to stop UK arms sales to Israel.

Wafaa Shamallakh, an Arabic interpreter who works for Kingston Council, described how her uncle’s entire family was killed in an airstrike in Sheikh Eljeen, southwest Gaza on October 8 2023.

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“They were all sleeping at their house and the Israeli Occupation Army targeted them out of nowhere. They were just innocent people,” Ms Shamallakh told LondonWorld.

“I lost my uncle and 10 members of his family, his wife, his five children, two grandchildren and his daughter-in-law.”

The rest of Ms Shamallakh’s family in Gaza have moved five times since Israel launched its bombardment in retaliation to the October 7 attacks carried out by Hamas.

“They didn’t evacuate at the beginning until the bombs were everywhere around them,” Ms Shamallakh told LondonWorld.

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“They have now fled five times. They were in Rafah just last week and after the military operation started in Rafah they had to move again. They are now in nearby al-Mawasi”.

Wafaa Shamallakh (left), Brendan O'Hara MP, and her two sonsWafaa Shamallakh (left), Brendan O'Hara MP, and her two sons
Wafaa Shamallakh (left), Brendan O'Hara MP, and her two sons

Ms Shamallakh joined other British-Palestinians, including writer and director Ahmed Masoud, with family trapped in Gaza in a demonstration outside Downing Street on Tuesday evening.

The group were calling on the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to halt UK arms sales to Israel as the Israeli military is attacking the overcrowded city of Rafah in the south of Gaza.

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Last week the USA, Israel’s largest supplier of arms, said it would stop supplying some weapons if Israel launched a major ground operation in Rafah. The UK has not followed suit.

“We’re trying to show the world that what’s going on is insane. We have never imagined we are in 2024 and genocide war crimes are going on,” said Ms Shamallakh.

“Yet the officials are doing nothing. They’re aiding and supporting the Israeli army and encouraging Israel to continue their war crimes and their military operation in Rafah where all the world is condemning and waiting for a ceasefire deal.”

Ms Shamallakh, whose mother is currently trapped in Gaza, is disappointed that the UK government has not facilitated a Palestinian family scheme, similar to the Ukrainian programme.

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“Just a few days ago I got the reply from the Home Office that my Mum has been refused entry into the UK while my Mum has been here twice visiting me,” said Ms Shamallakh.

“At this critical situation I thought at least the UK government would accept that my Mum needs a home. She needs to be safe but unfortunately they refused her entry to the UK.

“There was a debate in the House of Commons on Palestinian family scheme. They swiftly gave it to the Ukrainians when their war started but not for the Palestinians.

“I don’t know why Palestinian lives don’t matter for the UK government. We thought this is the least they can do. They are aiding Israel, supporting them and doing nothing to stop this war to stop the genocide.”

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Israel has denied it is committing genocide arguing its war in Gaza is being fought in self-defense, that it is targeting Hamas rather than Palestinians.

Despite increasing condemnation from around the world Israel says it needs to send troops into Rafah because Hamas's last remaining battalions are based there.

But the UN and Western powers say an all-out assault could lead to mass civilian casualties and a humanitarian catastrophe.

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