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Inverness doctor trying to save family in Gaza to speak at Highland Hearts for Palestine fundraiser

By Val Sweeney

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Salim Ghayyda's family are trapped in Gaza where bombardment has reduced areas to rubble.
Salim Ghayyda's family are trapped in Gaza where bombardment has reduced areas to rubble.

An Inverness doctor trying to save his family in Gaza has spoken of how his 18-month-old niece is having to eat animal feed and grass due to a lack of food.

Dr Salim Ghayyda, a paediactric consultant at Raigmore Hospital, will highlight the desperate plight facing his family later this month at a fundraising coffee morning being organised by Highland Hearts for Palestine.

With the help of donations from the public, his parents, a sister and a nephew have managed to travel out of Gaza and cross safely into Egypt after finding themselves caught up in the intensifying Israel-Hamas war.

But he has vowed not to give up on his 28 immediate family members who remain trapped and are having to eat animal feed and grass, and are at risk of dying from Israeli bombardment, dehydration, starvation or widespread disease.

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Raigmore Hospital consultant Salim Ghayyda is trying to save his family in Gaza. Picture: Callum Mackay.
Raigmore Hospital consultant Salim Ghayyda is trying to save his family in Gaza. Picture: Callum Mackay.

A group of about 30 women, who have formed Highland Hearts for Palestine, have come together to support his efforts in trying to raise £100,000 to get his family to safety and keep them alive.

Through crowdfunding efforts via Go Fund Me, he has already managed to secure £25,000 which meant his mother, Dalal (75), father, Nabil (85), his sister Hadeel and nephew, Waleed (23), are now safe in Egypt.

Highland Hearts for Palestine, which was brought together by nurse Aimi Downie (34), is organising a coffee morning at Inverness Ice Centre on April 20 between 10am and noon.

The event, which has now been ticketed due to popular demand, will see Dr Ghayyda give a talk about the devastating situation his family are facing in Gaza, alongside Avigail Abarbanel, a psychotherapist, who gave up her Israel citizenship.

Ahead of the event, Dr Ghayyda has expressed mixed emotions.

Although some of his family are now safe, the situation in Gaza continues to worsen since Israel launched its assault after the October 7 attack by Hamas gunmen who killed 1300 people and took about 250 others hostage.

Dr Ghayyda, who is a British Palestinian and has served in the NHS for 20 years, also says the UK government snubbed his calls to bring his family here to safety.

“I received a text from my brother saying my 18-month-old niece was not in good way and she had a temperature and cry of hunger every day after complains of a sore tummy after being forced to eat animal feed because there is no food in Northern Gaza,” he said.

“It’s absolute hell on earth, there is no food, the bombardment is constant and I won’t rest until I know I have done everything I can to save them.”

Highland Hearts for Palestine has appealed to businesses to open their hearts for prizes for the event which will include a silent action and raffle on the day in a bid to raise as much money as possible.

Organiser Ms Downie said: “What’s happening in Gaza is horrific and I really hope we can raise as much money as possible to help the remainder of Salim’s family to get to safety, including his young niece who is suffering every day.

“As a mother, I can’t imagine the anguish they must be going through and I want to do all that we can as a community to help.

“Business owners in Highland have a big heart.

“We’ve secured amazing prizes including a two-night stay at Go Glamping at Loch Ness, Lynsey Rennie make-up application, brunch for four at Utopia and a voucher for a lesson with Rob Douglas at Fortrose and Rosemarkie Golf Club, Four ball at Castle Stuart and much, much more.”

Anyone who would like to donate to Dr Ghayyda’s appeal can find it under his name at gofundme.com.

Anyone who wants to buy a ticket for the coffee morning can go to eventbrite.co.uk and follow Highland Hearts for Palestine on Instagram where the link can be found.

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