7:55 p.m. ET, November 9, 2023
British doctor who left through Rafah crossing has been forced to return to Gaza, parliament member says
Dr. Ahmed Sabra’s name was not on an approved list of foreign nationals allowed to leave Gaza and was subsequently turned away on the Egyptian side of the border and separated from his wife and children, according to UK Parliament member Geraint Davies.
Davies, who represents Swansea West in Wales, where the doctor and his family reside, provided CNN with a video and voice recordings he says Sabra recorded and sent him during his journey back to Gaza on Wednesday.
In the video, the UK citizen and National Health Service consultant said that he was allowed to leave the Palestinian side of the border alongside his family and crossed into an Egyptian reception center at the Rafah border crossing “three days ago.”
But he was not allowed to stay in Egypt because he was not on a list of those approved to cross from Gaza.
In a video and text messages, Sabra said that he left Gaza alongside his wife and children, but while his family was able to cross into Egypt and onward to Cairo, he was kept behind at the reception center.
Davies told CNN that neither he nor Sabra know why he was not included on the list.
More than 150 British nationals have left Gaza via the Rafah crossing and have made it through to Egypt, according to British Foreign Office minister Andrew Mitchell.
Sabra said in the video and messages that he and three other British nationals waited for two and a half days at the border for the British embassy to intervene. There, Davies said, Sabra was provided with food, drink, and a sofa to sleep on, but he was eventually sent back to Gaza by bus.
Davies says Sabra told him that Egyptian authorities reached out to British authorities and delayed the bus back to Gaza, but no intervention from British authorities came and he was sent back across the border.
“This is a death sentence,” Sabra said in the video. “I’m calling for the British government to do their duty and evacuate myself and other British nationals to safety to go back home.”
The UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) told CNN on Thursday: “We’re working round the clock to ensure all British nationals in Gaza who want to leave are able to. This involves submitting all details of British nationals and eligible dependents to the Israeli and Egyptian authorities. The authorities then review all cases and give permissions to cross.”
“We remain in regular contact with British Nationals in Gaza to provide them with the latest information, and UK teams are forward deployed to the border to receive anyone leaving,” the foreign office added.
CNN also reached out to the British Embassy in Egypt for comment.
Davies told CNN on Wednesday that Sabra was back in Gaza with little battery on his phone, no shelter and nowhere to go. The member of parliament said he has reached out directly to the UK’s foreign office for assistance on behalf of his constituent. Davies added that Sabra told him he was in “daily contact” with the foreign office and the British embassy in Egypt before he was sent back to Gaza.
“He’s now been dumped on the street by the UK without shelter, 10% [phone] charge, and little data in a bomb zone. I wouldn’t wish this on anyone,” Davies said. “He needs the help of the FCDO to get him home from danger with his family and wants the UK to do everything in its power to secure his safety.”