A British-Israeli man and his family are caught in a “long nightmare” as their elderly relatives are still missing more than 10 days after Hamas militants invaded their community.

Gad Haggai, 73, and his wife, Judih, 72, were on an early morning walk near Nir Oz, their home of nearly 30 years in southern Israel, when Hamas gunmen broke through the border with Gaza on October 7.

Mrs Haggai’s final message to her four children, sent in the family group chat, said they were laying face down as “hundreds” of rockets flew above their heads, their family said.

The Haggai family
Mr and Mrs Haggai have four children and six grandchildren (Family handout/PA)

Minutes later, the grandmother-of-six called the local paramedic asking him to “send an ambulance” as they had been shot by “terrorists on motorbikes”.

By this time, the gunmen were already storming the kibbutz where they slaughtered civilians, set fire to buildings, and shot the tyres of the ambulance which had been tasked to rescue the pair.

Mr Haggai, a retired chef, and his wife, an English teacher, both from Toronto, Canada, are among 180 killed or missing out of around 400 people in Nir Oz, amounting to 45% of the population, according to reports.

The Israeli military found no trace of them when they searched their last-known location, around a mile from their home, after regaining control of the area.

They have since geolocated their phones to Gaza, their family said, meaning they could be among dozens from Nir Oz held captive by Hamas.

Video footage sent by Mrs Haggai to friends around 40 minutes before Hamas reached Nir Oz and seen by the PA news agency showed a field, with rocket fire and gunshots audible in the distance.

Their nephew, Arad Haggai, who lives in Epping Forest, Essex, told PA he was due to visit his aunty and uncle and “could have been there” himself.

The 54-year-old surveyor said: “We’ve had no new updates for more than a week. 

“We are very confused, shocked and angry.

“There’s no way to go back there as most of the buildings are burned.

“(My cousins) are all in shock.

“They are hoping that something will come out but after 10 days it is a bad situation.

“It’s terrible – this is my home country and my family.”

Their daughter, Iris Haggai, who grew up in Nir Oz and knew most of those killed, said she felt like she was “in an episode of Black Mirror” as videos of her friends being kidnapped were shared on TikTok.

The 38-year-old mother of three, who lives in Singapore, has not travelled back to Israel as she fears it is “too unsafe”.

She said: “It’s grief of a whole community – I grew up there. I know everybody who was murdered. It’s unfathomable. It’s a very long nightmare.

“I think my parents were the first to encounter the terrorists as they were out of the kibbutz.

“My mother told the paramedic my father was hit really badly.

“She actually thought that he was dead. I’m thinking now my dad died (and) that’s my biggest fear. I don’t know how he can survive in a dungeon.

“I imagine my mum’s little body thrown in a dungeon and tortured.

“These people are capable of anything – I know babies who they beheaded – so I don’t know what’s worse.”

Across Israel, over 1,400 people were killed in the surprise offensive which sparked the heaviest fighting in the region for decades.

Around 3,000 Palestinians have been killed as Israel bombarded Gaza ahead of an anticipated land invasion to root out Hamas, an Islamist militant group which seized the region in 2007.