A Bovingdon man currently trapped in Israel amidst the ongoing conflict has spoken of the horrific situation, and called out the UK government for not doing enough to rescue citizens.
Simon Posner travelled to Tel Aviv, Israel’s capital, with his partner Sam on Thursday, October 5, for a short family holiday. This was the first time he has been to the country since 1997.
However, their holiday swiftly came to an end when war broke out with Hamas early on Saturday, October 8.
Speaking to Kings News, Simon said: “We flew in on Thursday afternoon, had a lovely day on Friday, but then we woke up on Saturday to air raid sirens and explosions over our head. All day Saturday, we had to go in and out of bomb shelters.”
Simon and Sam are currently staying at his brother-in-law’s house, which fortunately has access to shelter. On Sunday, however, the pair found themselves caught in a terrifying situation when they decided to give blood at a local hospital.
He explained: “While halfway through giving blood, all the sirens went off around me. My nurse said I couldn’t stop as I was midway through the procedure. So it was just me, the nurse and the security guard in the building.”
Luckily, the hospital was not hit, but on the walk back, the couple had their closest call yet. A bomb landed 50 metres from them in the water next to the beach they were walking along.
Commenting on the situation, Simon said: “It’s almost surreal. The guys that live here are sort of used to this sort of thing, so they just carry on with their normal lives. As UK citizens, we’ve never been through something like this. I can’t get my head out of it.”
Sadly, Simon’s family know some of those who have lost their lives in the conflict. They are friends of Jake Marlowe, one of the young British citizens who attended a dance festival near the Gaza border where a massacre took place, with Jake one of the victims. Simon’s brother-in-law’s niece was due to attend the festival, but didn’t go in the end as she was unwell. Two of her friends did go, however, and tragically were killed.
Simon said: “I’m sick to my stomach about it. It’s one thing war, soldiers fighting soldiers. But when you target innocent women, children and families, there’s no justification for that.
“We’re all human beings at the end of the day, and this is just going to end in innocent bloodshed on both sides.”
Though they still have a flight booked on Sunday, Simon and Sam know that if any threats come from Hamas against airports, all flights will be grounded.
He has been extremely critical of the UK government’s response to the situation and aid to British citizens in Israel.
He stated: “We’ve tried to get out of the country, but there’s no way out. Most airlines have stopped flying out of Tel Aviv. We’re really annoyed with the UK government regarding their response; they’ve just told us to speak to our airlines, who we can’t get a hold of.
“The foreign secretary James Cleverly said on the TV that we’ll do everything we can to get people out; it’s total lies. They’re doing nothing. The UK embassy told us they had no plans to repatriate UK citizens.
“It’s a nightmare situation and I’m stuck in the middle of it as my government won’t get me out.”
A spokesperson from the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office said: “We don’t comment on individual consular cases. However we can confirm we are in contact with – and assisting – the families of several individuals in Israel and the OPTs.
“The safety of all British nationals continues to be our utmost priority and we urge everyone to continue to follow our travel advice which is updated regularly.
“British nationals requiring consular assistance should call the following numbers: +972 (0)3 725 1222 or +972 (2) 5414100. If you experience technical difficulties with these or if you are in the UK, call +44 20 7008 5000.”