'It feels like yesterday and a lifetime ago': Brother of woman killed in October 7 attacks says shock 'never leaves'

7 April 2024, 11:11 | Updated: 7 April 2024, 11:51

Israeli-hostages campaigner gives update 6 months on from 07/10

By Emma Soteriou

The brother of a British woman who was killed in Hamas' brutal attack on Israel on October 7 has said he still gets "gut punches" when memories of his loved ones hit.

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Stephen Brisley lost his sister, Lianne Sharabi, and two nieces Noiya, 16, and Yahel, 13, during the October 7 attacks, which saw 1,200 people killed and around 250 Israelis taken hostage.

He said the shock "never leaves you" as he revealed he broke down in tears in the middle of a supermarket after being reminded of his nieces.

Speaking to LBC's Matthew Wright, Mr Brisley said: "It feels like yesterday and a lifetime ago all at once.

"The visceral raw shock of the first few weeks and the first month has dissipated to a degree but it never leaves you.

"You have those gut punches and the memories hit you when you least expect them.

"I was in my local Tesco supermarket at the end of November and found myself sobbing in the aisles because I walked past the advent calendars and I would normally have sent over some advent calendars for the girls to open before they would come to us for Christmas.

"It’s just little things like that – you never know when something’s going to set you off."

Read more: Rishi Sunak vows to stand by Israel as he calls for end to bloodshed six months on from October 7 Hamas attacks

Read more: Royal Navy ship to be sent to Gaza to help aid to get into war-torn strip

Yahel, Lianne and Noiya Sharabi
Yahel, Lianne and Noiya Sharabi. Picture: Handout

Mr Brisley remembered his sister as a "talented musician and singer" with "an incredible sense of humour".

“I know that she would be trying to find some of the humour in this and so I try and continue to do that myself," he said.

He recalled the last conversation he had with Lianne was just a few days before the attacks.

"I phoned her, she was at work – she was a dental nurse – and it was a video call," he said.

"She appeared in frame with a mask and gloves on, saying ‘sorry Steve, I can’t speak now, I’ve got my hands in someone’s mouth.’

"That’s the last conversation I had with her and it’s a funny one so you hold on to that."

Eli Sharabi
Eli Sharabi. Picture: Instagram/Bring Them Home Now

Six months on from the attacks, Mr Brisley is calling for the return of his brother-in-law, Eli Sharabi, who was among those abducted.

He commended the government for their support in recent months, despite a tough few weeks immediately after the attacks.

"In the early few weeks, I was extremely critical of our government… we felt that we weren’t getting the support that we deserved as my sister and both my nieces were British citizens," Mr Brisley said.

"Since late November/December time, there’s been a sea change in the support we’ve had from the government.

"David Cameron and Tariq Ahmad in particular have really become emotionally invested in our family’s story and have helped.

"The Foreign Office have got a specialist team that are our contacts and we have family liaison officers from the Metropolitan Police.

"That said, there’s very little that anyone other than the two major stakeholders - being Israel and Hamas – can do about it.

"We’ve met with David Cameron and Tariq Ahmad on a few occasions, personally and virtually, we get updates from them but I think we’re realistic about what pressure the UK and the US can place on the two parties that can actually change anything here."

It comes after PM Rishi Sunak vowed to stand by Israel on the anniversary.

He said: "Today marks six months since the terrorist outrage of October 7 - the most appalling attack in Israel's history, the worst loss of Jewish life since the Second World War.

"Six months later, Israeli wounds are still unhealed. Families still mourn and hostages are still held by Hamas."

Mr Sunak added: "We continue to stand by Israel's right to defeat the threat from Hamas terrorists and defend their security.

"But the whole of the UK is shocked by the bloodshed, and appalled by the killing of brave British heroes who were bringing food to those in need."

He called for an immediate humanitarian pause in the fighting, "leading to a long-term sustainable ceasefire".

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