The mother-in-law of the first minister was in Gaza for a family visit last month when the conflict broke out. On November 3, following two unsuccessful attempts, she successfully traversed the Rafah Border Crossing into Egypt.
On October 7, while Elizabeth El-Nakla and her spouse Maged were visiting family in Gaza, hostilities broke out.
Returning to Scotland Amidst Chaos
The Dundee-based couple, whose daughter Nadia El-Nakla is married to Humza Yousaf, managed to return to Scotland after four weeks of enduring a “living nightmare” due to the explosions in the vicinity.
The ordeal, according to Ms. El-Nakla, is still “extremely surreal.”
She stated in an interview with Beth Rigby, “When I awaken in the middle of the night and hear silence in the darkness, I am reassured that I am safe and at home.” And I am extremely appreciative of that.
“Every day and night, you and your family who reside within your household truly do contemplate our own demise.” “That is both difficult to understand and difficult to overcome.”
On November 3, the couple succeeded in penetrating Egypt through the Rafah Border Crossing subsequent to two unsuccessful endeavours.
That was the instant Ms. El-Nakla believed she was secure, but it was also the moment she became overcome with exhaustion.
“I hadn’t slept for nearly three weeks,” she reported. “While feeling tremendous relief, your disbelief persists, and you are beyond fatigued.
“We then board the bus, whereupon we behold a throng of ecstatic children.” A packet of pastries and a bottle of water were presented to us.
Her daughter Nadia, a councillor in Dundee, stated that she was “clinging to hope” but imagined she might never see her parents again during the “darkest of times.”
Nadia texted her parents on Saturday, October 7, when the conflict erupted, “Your window of opportunity will be brief; you must depart.” Every individual in Gaza will be thrust into an extremely, extremely perilous predicament.”
“Horrified” was how Ms. El-Nakla described what she was seeing on the news.
Additionally, she stated, “I was astounded. Then, upon witnessing individuals being abducted… Seeing elderly persons being bundled onto motorcycles and tuk-tuks is abhorrent to me as well. Such behaviour simply does not occur.
Furthermore, you realise, “Oh my God, the consequences will be enormous.” Not only do you fear the individuals who are being abducted, but you also harbour apprehension regarding the forthcoming events.”
Ms. El-Nakla reported that the bombings commenced on Saturday evening.
Escaping Gaza’s Horrors
An endeavour to seek refuge on October 14 resulted in the couple being accompanied to the frontier by a neighbour aged 22.
They were instructed to return, and the line disconnected while they were speaking with Nadia due to a detonation. Nadia stated that she “fell to her knees” and was not able to realise her parents were still alive for approximately ten minutes.
Emotional Turmoil and Mental Health Struggles
Nadia declared that moment to be her lowest. “Thereafter, we were required to travel to Aberdeen in preparation for the [SNP] conference.” Thus, I spent the entire voyage to Aberdeen in tears.
“At that moment, we were en route to dinner when I simply broke down and told Humza, ‘I can’t.'” “I am going to take a break because I cannot see people, feel present, speak, or make eye contact.”
That was the most dreadful day of my life in regards to my mental health and coping with it.
After attempting to transport the couple to the border, the 22-year-old neighbour was later slain when his home was bombed, resulting in the deaths of 24 family members.
The only survivor is the eight-year-old sibling of the deceased man; she is currently undergoing treatment in Egypt for a fractured spine.
As Ms. El-Nakla ate pitta bread with Scottish marmalade in her kitchen, she noticed a light propelled by air suction. She instinctively sought shelter.
She stated, “Thereafter, I no longer felt fear.” Nothing felt to me.”
Outside, Ms. El-Nakla stated, “Everyone was screaming and terrified.”
She described her emotions as “extremely mixed,” adding, “You know it’s someone else, but you’re relieved it’s not you.”
She added that most evenings she was unable to sleep. Additionally, I would recline on the periphery of my bed and sway for six to seven hours while self-soothing.
Furthermore, upon the dawn’s emergence, you were ecstatic to remain alive.
According to Ms. El-Nakla, upon the couple’s eventual crossing into Egypt, the expressions of “desperation” on the features of all those attempting to escape were palpable.
She stated, in reference to the conflict, “I would not wish that ordeal upon my worst enemy.”
Ms. El-Nakla stated that she is gaining strength daily, but added, “However, I do not believe we will be able to get over it until our family, friends, and everyone in Gaza are safe. I believe this will never be possible. Furthermore, my life has been irrevocably altered.”
The family demands an absolute cessation of hostilities and a two-state resolution.
However, Palestine, according to Nadia, is not a “world player.” “We don’t exactly have any power,” she continued. This therefore falls to other administrations. This has been observed in Qatar, the United Kingdom, and the United States, all of which have attempted to have these discussions.
“However, what exactly would that resemble in reality?”
“In all honesty, my intellect, on a personal level, is incapable of progressing. It is becoming increasingly apparent that both the survival of my family and the continued existence of Palestine are uncertain on a daily basis.
My life is halted when I consider what will occur after the conflict if there is no word of a ceasefire; it appears and feels as though we are being eradicated from existence.