Humza Yousaf has “unequivocally condemned” Hamas as terrorists while calling for the killing of innocent civilians to stop with family members trapped in Gaza.
Scotland’s First Minister said his parents in-law, who are from Dundee, were visiting relatives when gunmen broke through Israeli barriers, shot civilians and snatched people in towns and at a music festival in the desert.
In retaliation, while Israeli forces battled militants holed up in several locations, the Gaza Strip was bombarded as Israel declared war on Hamas.
On Sunday, strikes flattened much of the town of Beit Hanoun, which Israel said Hamas was using as a staging ground.
“Let me start by saying how unjustifiable and how strongly I condemn the actions of Hamas,” the First Minister said.
“There can be no equivocation about that condemnation and the Scottish Government is strong in its condemnation in that respect.”
Yousaf said his wife Nadia El-Nakla’s parents are “trapped” in Gaza after they went to visit his father-in-law’s 92-year-old “elderly and frail” mother.
They have been told by Israeli authorities to leave because “Gaza will effectively be obliterated,” Yousaf said.
“Gaza is under blockade,” he said, “Even with the assistance of the Foreign Office, they cannot guarantee any safe passage to any of the borders.
“My wife and I are sick with worry about whether or not, frankly, my in-laws will survive.”
Yousaf said the killing of innocent Israeli or Palestinian civilians could not be justified and called for a humanitarian corridor to be put in place.
“Just as my wife and I are sick with worry, there will be many people, also in our Jewish communities in Scotland, who will be sick with worry about family members that they’ve not heard from or that have come to harm’s way in the last few days,” he said.
“Whether you are Israeli, whether you’re Palestinian, whether you’re Jewish or whether you’re Muslim – there are people, innocent people, who are suffering.”
The First Minister said his family only had supplies for two days as Israeli defence minister Yoav Gallant ordered a “complete siege” on Gaza, saying authorities will cut electricity and block the entry of food and fuel.
“My family have nothing to do with Hamas, my mother-in-law is retired nurse from Ninewells,” a visibly emotional Yousaf said.
“My brother-in-law who lives in Gaza is a doctor in a hospital. They have nothing to do with Hamas, nothing to do with the terror attacks we saw but they are, along with a lot of other Gazans, potentially going to suffer collective punishment.”
Israel and Egypt have imposed a blockade on Gaza of varying strictness since Hamas seized power in 2007. In recent years Israel has provided limited electricity and allowed the import of food, fuel and some consumer goods, while heavily restricting travel in and out.
Yousaf said he does not know how many Scots have been caught up in the fighting in Israel and Gaza.
The First Minister praised communications with the Foreign Office as “good,” but said it was not yet clear who was in the region and how they have been impacted.
He said: “I’ve asked both for the situations in terms of any Scottish Israelis that might be affected and impacted and any Scots in Gaza that might be impacted.
“I’ve not got numbers yet but liaison with the Foreign Office, I should say, is good, they’ve been helpful in providing information but once I have that I’m sure we’ll be able to furnish you with the details.”
The Israeli seal will leave Gaza almost entirely dependent on its crossing into neighbouring Egypt at Rafah, where cargo capacities are lower than other crossings into Israel.
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