Lancaster charity worker stranded in Israel says she will join army to help defend her ‘other country’
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Charity worker Leigh Humpage, who used to live in Israel and is an Israeli citizen as well as British, was visiting friends in Raanana, a small city in the centre of the country, when Palestinian militant group Hamas launched an attack.
Hamas fighters entered communities near the Gaza Strip, killing hundreds of people and taking dozens of hostages.
Leigh is now unable to get home after all flights were cancelled - and is instead planning to join the Israeli army as a volunteer.
The 62-year-old, whose twin sister Donna, brother-in-law Glen, nephews, and also her daughter Lily and her partner Chris all live in Carnforth, flew to Israel on October 1 to visit friends.
She was due to come home on October 9, but was left stranded when all flights were cancelled.
"I don't know when I will be able to get back at this stage," she said.
War broke out on October 7 when Israel came under attack from Hamas - the Islamic Resistance Movement - which rules the Gaza Strip.
Hamas has fought several wars with Israel since it took power in Gaza in 2007.
After the unprecedented attack, Israel announced a 'siege' of Gaza - cutting its supplies of electricity, fuel, food, goods and water.
Since the attack began, the death toll in Israel has reached 1,200, while more than 1,000 people have been killed by Israeli air strikes on Gaza, according to BBC reports.
"Hamas fired over 5,000 missiles in the space of 20 minutes," Leigh said. "They crossed the borders and infiltrated Israeli kibbutzim and homes - over 1,200 people have been brutally tortured and murdered.
"Civilians - women, children, babies. Rape and torture, babies beheaded.
"Many hostages are being held and atrocities taking place. Nowhere is safe."
Leigh is staying with her friends in Raanana. They have gas masks and anti-chemical warfare kits in case of emergency.
"We have lost friends," she said. "My friends' sons and daughters have been called up to the army. My friend's eldest daughter has been called up. You have watched the news. We are at war.
"The siren goes off frequently and we run to take cover or get to a bomb shelter. We are hearing explosions.
"We have to lock ourselves in at home and be extremely vigilant due to the threat of terrorist infiltration. We can only go out for essential supplies.
"The atmosphere is surreal, like something you watch on the TV or a film. But this is not an Xbox game. This is real.
"We are in shock, rage, and terrible grief. We are frightened, but unbowed. We will survive. We have to. Israel has a right to exist like any other country.
"Can you imagine if missiles were being fired into Preston, Morecambe or Lancaster?!
"There is no justification for this barbarous act of sheer terror on the part of Hamas."
While the Foreign Office has now said it is arranging flights to get stranded British nationals out of Israel, Leigh has vowed to remain to support her friends and the country.
And this Sunday she plans to sign up as a volunteer for the Israel Defence Forces.
"I should be at my desk at White Cross," she said. "I should be shopping in Sainsbury's and going about my normal 'Lancashire life' but I'm here in a war zone.
"We don't know what is going to happen next, but I suspect it will get worse before it gets better.
"I am a Jew, an Israeli and a proud Brit.
"I find myself in very difficult circumstances but will stay - one, because I have no choice at the moment with flights cancelled, and two, because I cannot bring myself to abandon my other country in its time of need.
"I miss my family, especially my daughter Lily and sister Donna who are naturally very concerned about me.
"I miss my friends. I miss my Synagogue in Blackpool. I miss Lancaster. I miss normality. But this is how it is."