Yousaf spent morning on phone to family in Gaza after Israel repels Hamas

The First Minister said many in Scotland will be worried about the safety of relatives in the region.

Humza Yousaf spent morning on phone to family in Gaza after violence in Israel and Palestine Flickr

Humza Yousaf has said he spent Saturday morning with his wife on the phone to her family in Gaza following the violence in the region that has reportedly seen nearly 240 people killed.

Hamas militants that rule the Gaza Strip launched a major, unprecedented attack on Israel at daybreak on Saturday.

The group fired thousands of rockets and sent dozens of fighters across the country’s heavily fortified border in a massive show of force that caught Israel off-guard on a major holiday.

Israel’s national rescue service said at least 40 people have been killed and hundreds wounded during the military incursion.

The numbers make the operation the deadliest in Israeli territory in years.

At least 561 wounded people were being treated in Israeli hospitals, including at least 77 who were in critical condition, according to an Associated Press count based on public statements and calls to hospitals.

A retaliation by Israel killed at least 198 people and wounded 1,610 in Gaza, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.

The toll came as Israel carried out a number of air strikes in the area and clashed with gunmen at the border fence around the coastal territory.

Posting on social media on Saturday afternoon, the First Minister said many people in Scotland will be deeply concerned for their relatives in the region.

He said: “My wife Nadia and I spent this morning on the phone to her family in Gaza.

“Many others in Scotland will be deeply worried about their families in Israel and Palestine.

“My thoughts and prayers are very much with those worried about loved ones caught up in this awful situation.”

Yousaf was replying to a post from SNP MP Brendan O’Hara who condemned Hamas for its attack.

O’Hara said: “The scenes we are witnessing from Gaza and Israel are deeply disturbing. Along with the rest of the international community, we condemn the actions of Hamas, just as we condemn the killing of all innocent civilians, be they Israeli or Palestinian.

“There will be communities in Scotland who are deeply worried about their families in Israel and Palestine and our thoughts are with them all. It is essential that the international community come together to deescalate the situation before more lives are lost.”

Rishi Sunak said Israel had a right to defend itself against attacks.Flickr

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak also condemned the group and said Israel has “an absolute right to defend itself”.

He said the UK Government is in contact with Israeli authorities after Hamas sent fighters across the border and fired thousands of rockets in what it said was a new operation.

Israel’s premier Benjamin Netanyahu said the group would “pay a price that it hasn’t known until now” as he called up reservists.

Videos released by Hamas suggested at least three Israelis had been captured alive.

And footage has been posted on social media of Hamas fighters parading what appeared to be stolen Israeli military vehicles through the streets.

Sunak said: “I am shocked by this morning’s attacks by Hamas terrorists against Israeli citizens.

“Israel has an absolute right to defend itself.

“We’re in contact with Israeli authorities, and British nationals in Israel should follow travel advice.”

The White House said that it “unequivocally condemns” the Hamas attacks.

National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said: “There is never any justification for terrorism.

“We stand firmly with the Government and people of Israel and extend our condolences for the Israeli lives lost in these attacks.

“National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan has spoken to Israeli national security adviser Tzachi Hanegbi and we remain in close contact with our Israeli partners.”

Israel has blockaded Gaza since Islamic militant group Hamas gained control of the territory in 2007 and the two have fought wars ever since.

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