British families of Hamas hostages say UK government has 'abandoned' them

28 November 2023, 19:27

Lianne Sharabi, 48, and daughters Noiya, 16 and Yahel, 13, were killed by Hamas, while Eli is still in captivity
Lianne Sharabi, 48, and daughters Noiya, 16 and Yahel, 13, were killed by Hamas, while Eli is still in captivity. Picture: Facebook

By Kit Heren

British families of people taken hostage by Hamas have said they feel "abandoned" by the government.

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The families said that they felt "hugely let down and frustrated" by the efforts to get their relatives freed.

Hamas has released 81 hostages from Gaza since Friday, as part of a truce deal with Israel, out of a total of around 240 taken in the attacks on October 7.

Several British families are still waiting for news of their loved ones who were caught up in the violence.

Pete and Gill Brisley, whose daughter and granddaughters were among around 1,200 killed by Hamas, and whose son-in-law was taken hostage, said they felt "complete and utter abandonment by the UK Government".

Read more: Irish-Israeli girl Emily Hand, 9, whose father feared her dead, among hostages released from Hamas captivity

Read more: Family of 10-month Israeli baby held hostage fear Hamas 'keeping him as a trophy' as he is not on latest release list

Yahel (left), Lianne (middle), Noiya (right) were all killed during the Hamas attack
Yahel (left), Lianne (middle), Noiya (right) were all killed during the Hamas attack. Picture: Handout

They also accused ministers of "impotence and inadequacy".

Their daughter Lianne Sharabi, 48, and her teenage daughters Yahel, 13, and Noiya, 16, were killed by Hamas in Kibbutz Be’eri.

Lianne's husband Eli and his brother Yossi were taken by the terrorists in the attacks.

The 79-year-old Brisleys, from Wales wrote to the government to complain of their "disgraceful" treatment by ministers, but have not received a reply. They got a separate letter from then-Foreign Secretary James Cleverly later, but this was said to be unrelated.

Their son Steve said his parents were not convinced that the government was doing everything it could to secure the release of their family members.

Foreign Secretary David Cameron visiting Israel
Foreign Secretary David Cameron visiting Israel. Picture: Getty

This isn’t about point-scoring," he told the Telegraph. "But my granddad landed on Juno Beach on D-Day. My parents are Londoners. My father-in-law serves in the RAF. I work in the public sector and my wife’s a classroom assistant. My nephew’s a serving officer in the Royal Navy.

"If we can’t rely on our Government in our hour of need, then, you know, is all that public service for nothing?"

Mr Brisley said his family found it upsetting that Rishi Sunak and Lord Cameron, the Foreign Secretary, had been to Israel but not met with them in the UK.

He said: "Rishi Sunak turns up at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem [and] bats away the... reporters who tried to ask him questions in the foyer, saying: ‘I need to go and meet with the families, they’re at the centre of all this.’ He certainly hasn’t come and met with me.

"It just seems very much like lip service. Rishi Sunak tweeted last week about ‘we’re doing all we can’ – it’s just ‘let’s throw out a couple of tweets. Let’s do a few photo opportunities, and then let’s jump back on our plane and go back to back to the UK’.

The moment Israeli hostages returned to Israel

"One thing that I found particularly difficult and contemptuous was that David Cameron visited Kibbutz Be’eri, my sister’s home, last week. So he’s trodden in the dirt into which the blood of my sister and my nieces is soaked, and yet neither he nor his predecessor has seen fit to engage with the British families.

"He doesn’t need to don a flak jacket and Kevlar helmet to engage with us. But if there’s a press opportunity in Israel, then they’re there."

Mr Brisley said he found it "bittersweet" to watch some of the other hostages being freed.

He said: "It’s at once beautiful and crushing. We want Eli and Yossi home because it will give us a chance to reunite with them and it will give us a chance to move on with our grieving process.

"This hanging over us is stopping us from grieving for my sister and my nieces because my whole life is consumed with this."

Hamas video of hostages being released

Other British families waiting for the return of their loved ones include the Lifschitzes. Oded, 84, and Yocheved, 85, were taken hostage. Oded is still in captivity, while Yocheved was released.

Ayelet Svatitzky also does not know what has happened to her brother Nadav Popplewell, although her mother Channa Perri was released on Friday. Her brother Roi was killed.

The Foreign Office has been contacted for comment.