Humza Yousaf has comforted the mother of a Scottish man killed in Hamas’ attack in Israel as his in-laws remain stuck in Gaza amid airstrikes.
The First Minister joined more than 500 members of Glasgow’s Jewish community, civic and faith leaders and guests at a prayer service in Giffnock Newton Mearns Synagogue.
Bernard Cowan was murdered by Palestinian militants on Saturday in one of several outbreaks of violence.
Mr Cowan, who lived in Israel with his wife and three children, grew up in Glasgow. At the prayer service on Thursday evening, his mother lit a candle in memory of her son.
Yousaf met and embraced her after telling the congregation gathered there: “Your grief is my grief.”
“I stand in solidarity with Scotland’s Jewish community, who have lost members of their community in the senseless and horrific attacks we witnessed last Saturday in Southern Israel.
“I want to send my condolences to the victims and the families of all those affected by this desperate situation.
“At a time of great sorrow and sadness, I want you to be in no doubt whatsoever that I, and the Government I lead, stand with you and with all communities who are mourning the loss of innocent life.”
Yousaf said he was meeting with Palestinian leaders on Friday.
Yousaf shared a video from his mother-in-law in Gaza amid an order for the evacuation of the north where 1.1 million people live.
Elizabeth El-Nakla, from Dundee, travelled to Gaza with her husband to visit family when violence broke out with Hamas launching an attack on Israel on Saturday.
In retaliation, Israel declared war, sealed off the Gaza Strip and has bombarded the region with airstrikes destroying neighbourhoods.
Ms El-Nakla is with her husband and his family in Deir al-Balah, south of the Gaza River – the line which Israeli Defence Forces have ordered Palestinians to move beyond.
“But the family that is in the north, my wife’s aunt, for example, they will move,” Yousaf told STV News.
“So that house that, at the moment, has ten people in it, is likely, they think, to have 40 people in it, with diminishing supplies.
“It’s a humanitarian disaster which is very quickly becoming a complete catastrophe.
“The world, the international community, has to step up to provide vital supplies but most importantly open up humanitarian corridors to get people out.
“Collective punishment can never be justified.”
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