A “talented, kind and principled” doctor with family in Oxford has been killed in a strike at a hospital in northern Gaza.

Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) Dr Mahmoud Abu Nujaila was working in the Al-Awda hospital when it was hit on the third and fourth floors on the morning of November 21, killing him and his colleague Dr Ahmad Al Sahar.

The 38-year-old has a brother, Mohammed, who lives in East Oxford with his partner and two sons, and leaves behind three children of his own, Waleed, Majid and Khalid, and his wife, Naima.

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In a text message to Mohammed sent one week before his death, Dr Abu Nujaila described his heartbreak at caring for three patients, children aged eight, seven and four.

The only survivors from three different families, the children were brought to the hospital suffering from fractures, burns and deep wounds.

Dr Abu Nujaila said in his message: “I take care of them daily. They have become my own children.

“We await at any time the order from the Israeli army to forcefully evacuate to the southern region of Gaza and to leave these children.

“Tell me, for God’s sake, 'how can I leave them?' I don’t dare even think about it.”

Councillor Shaista Aziz, leader of the Independent Group on Oxford City Council, has known Dr Abu Nujaila for 17 years and worked with him at Oxfam.

She said: “We are all devastated at the loss of this talented, kind and principled man, who refused to abandon his patients in one of the only functioning hospitals in Gaza.”

thisisoxfordshire: Doctor Mahmoud Abu NujailaMohammed told Ms Aziz: “He put the lives of vulnerable patients before his own and his own family, who didn’t even get a chance to say goodbye to him.

“Nobody is safe in Gaza from the bombs, from hunger and thirst.

“My family are devastated with grief. We are deeply proud of him. We can’t even mourn together because it is not safe to do so.

“I pray for my brother’s soul, for his children, wife and for all of us. This is a very heavy loss.”

Before his death, Dr Abu Nujaila wrote a message to his doctor colleagues’ WhatsApp group: “We as doctors will not abandon our patients, and we still have hope the world will not abandon us.

“Not for our sake as medical staff, but for the sake of patients. Don’t let us down.”

Ms Aziz read Dr Abu Nujaila’s message aloud in a full city council meeting in Oxford Town Hall on Monday, while making a speech to support a motion calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, which was passed unanimously.

A spokesman for Medecins Sans Frontieres said: “MSf is horrified by the killing of Dr Mahmoud Abu Nujaila following a strike.

“Our thoughts are with his family and all colleagues mourning his death.”

Layla Moran speaks on Gaza family loss

On Question Time on Thursday night, the Oxford West and Abingdon MP told audiences why she believed there needs to be a "bilateral ceasefire" between Israel and Hamas.

She said: "We need the killing to stop. This is a deep humanitarian crisis. It has already killed one member of my family who, by the way, didn't die from a bomb.

"He died because he couldn't get access to medical help. They're in northern Gaza. We're Christian Palestinians. 

"He was dehydrated, old and frail, and they couldn't move from the north. Nowhere in Gaza is safe. And they died.

thisisoxfordshire: Layla Moran in the House of CommonsLayla Moran in the House of Commons (Image: PA)"And another one I've heard today, the update is that the others are still there. And one is now really sick also because they're drinking contaminated water.

"Because there was a choice made in the immediate aftermath of October 7 by Israel to turn off the water.

"This isn't right. I'm not a lawyer. People are talking about international law and all that. This just is not right.

"We need to stop this level of devastation. But we also need to be clear, Hamas need to be gone.

"They need to be gone from Gaza." 


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This story was written by Matthew Norman, he joined the team in 2022 as a Facebook community reporter.

Matthew covers Bicester and focuses on finding stories from diverse communities.

Get in touch with him by emailing: Matthew.norman@newsquest.co.uk

Follow him on Twitter: @OxMailMattN1