10 October 2023

Church group of 30 Britons stuck in Israel hearing bombs as they await escape

10 October 2023

Members of a group of about 30 British tourists stuck in Israel with their church have said they can hear bombs from their hotel in Jerusalem as they await a flight out of the country.

A group from the Serbian Orthodox Church of the Holy Prince Lazar in Birmingham, which includes mostly British members and children as young as six, travelled to the region on October 1 to visit holy sites.

The group were in Bethlehem in the West Bank, Palestine, on Saturday when the Hamas attack occurred, then travelled via a convoy to Jerusalem in Israel, where they are now sheltering in a hotel while trying to leave the region.

Father Nenad Popovic, 44, a priest at the church who organised the trip, said there are young children in the group and elderly members who are in need of medication.

“We can hear horns here and a lot of detonations, bombs sometimes,” Mr Popovic, from Birmingham, told the PA news agency.

“We are here with 40 people, 25 to 30 of whom are British citizens.

“We have children here, we have old people that need (medication) because we didn’t plan to stay in Israel.”

Ljiljana Stojsavljevic, a 54-year-old member of the group from London, said on Monday evening they had heard “absolutely nothing” from the UK Government in “over 24 hours”.

The mother of six told PA: “We’re a bit stressed out, there seems to be no boost from the British government for the citizens who are stuck here.

“There’s been absolutely no contact since we registered with the British government to inform them that we’re here.”

She added that it’s “impossible” to find a flight out of Israel.

“There are three children in the group, one is only six and the other two are slightly older,” she said.

“It’s not pleasant, but we’re trying to keep the spirits up and stay positive – for how long, we’re not sure.

“I’ve got six children waiting for me to come back – I don’t want them to worry, so I don’t tell them anything that’s serious.

“I can’t wait to get back and get united with them.”

A Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) spokesperson 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.”

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