wo teenage sisters are among the British citizens still missing following Hamas’s attacks on Israel as efforts continue to prevent a humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
According to reports, the girls, named only as Noiya, 16, and Yahel, 13, disappeared from their home in Kibbutz Be’eri after it was stormed by militants and their mother Lianne was killed.
Rishi Sunak told MPs on Monday at least six Britons were killed and a further 10 missing in the “pogrom” on October 7 and called for the immediate release of the around 200 hostages taken by the militant group.
The Times reported the girls’ father Eli is also missing, and said his brother-in-law, Raz, 53, had called for help from UK officials.
He told the paper: “We want the British government to take some action to at least find out what happened. We don’t know if they were kidnapped but if we come to that point we will be happy if they try to do whatever they can to bring those girls back.”
According to multiple reports, 32-year-old British-Israeli national Benjamin Trakeniski was also killed in Be’eri while trying to help residents flee the Hamas gunmen.
Meanwhile aid into Gaza remains blocked at the border with Egypt as governments and humanitarian groups called for food, water and fuel to be allowed into the region amid fears citizens could starve and hospitals would run out of electricity.
Local media reported Israel carried out air strikes on the Rafah crossing, Gaza’s only connection to Egypt, as mediators tried to reach a ceasefire deal to help people leave.
In a Commons statement on Monday, Mr Sunak said he recognised the Palestinian people are “victims of Hamas too” as he announced an extra £10 million of aid funding.
British officials have been pressing for Egypt to open the Rafah crossing with Gaza to allow aid in and Britons, dual nationals, as well as their spouses and children, to flee.
However, expectations in Government for opening the crossing were understood to be very low on Monday.
Mr Sunak raised the border crossing in a call with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi last week, and it is understood that opening the border for foreign nationals and for Palestinian refugees could be treated separately.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “We do think it is important, both in the interests of British nationals and others, but also important for the flow of humanitarian aid into Gaza.”
With the families of some of the missing watching his statement in Parliament, Mr Sunak said more than 1,400 people were murdered, more than 3,500 wounded and almost 200 taken hostage in Hamas’s attack.
“The elderly, men, women, children, babes in arms, murdered, mutilated, burned alive,” he continued.
“We should call it by its name: it was a pogrom.”
Mr Sunak said the “terrible nature of these attacks means it is proving difficult to identify many of the deceased” but at least six Britons were killed.
Of the further 10 missing, he said some are feared to be among the dead as the UK works with Israel to establish the facts and support the families through their “unimaginable pain”.
He said eight flights so far have brought back 500 British nationals from Israel.
Addressing the British Jewish community, Mr Sunak said: “We stand with you now and always. This atrocity was an existential strike at the very idea of Israel as a safe homeland for the Jewish people.”
The Prime Minister said he is “sickened” that antisemitic attacks have increased since the wave of bloodshed in Israel, as he vowed to do “everything we can to protect you”.
But he said “we stand with British Muslim communities too” as he noted the “moment of great anguish” for those appalled by Hamas’s actions while being fearful of the response.
Mr Sunak announced that a further £10 million in humanitarian aid would be provided to civilians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, up from the £27 million existing funding this year.
Responding to Mr Sunak’s statement, Sir Keir Starmer added it is “crucial that this House speaks with one voice in condemnation of terror, in support for Israel in its time of agony and for the dignity of all human life”.
The United Nations and global aid agencies have expressed alarm about the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Gaza, after Israel ordered civilians to evacuate the north ahead of an imminent attack.
Western diplomats are also concerned that the war between Hamas and Israel could spark a wider conflict in the Middle East.
Israel has said the siege will not be lifted until Hamas releases all the captives, but the country’s water ministry said supplies had been restored at one “specific point”, outside the southern town of Khan Younis.