Scottish First Minister’s family caught in the crossfire of Hamas-Israel conflict
Humza Yousaf, the First Minister of Scotland, has expressed his anguish and fear for his family members who are stuck in Gaza, the Palestinian territory under a brutal Israeli blockade and bombardment. Yousaf’s wife, Nadia El-Nakla, is of Palestinian origin and her parents, Elizabeth and Maged El-Nakla, had travelled to Gaza to visit their elderly relatives. They are now unable to leave as the Israeli authorities have closed all the borders and cut off all the supplies to the besieged enclave.
Yousaf said that he and his wife are constantly worried about the safety and well-being of their in-laws, who have nothing to do with the militant group Hamas that controls Gaza and has been launching rockets at Israel in response to its aggression in Jerusalem and the West Bank. He said that they have been told by the Israeli authorities to leave Gaza because it will be “obliterated”, but they have nowhere to go and no guarantee of safe passage. He said that they are living in fear of the Israeli air strikes that have killed dozens of civilians, including children, and destroyed many buildings and infrastructure.
Yousaf condemned the Hamas attack on Israel as a “barbaric act of terror” and called for an immediate ceasefire and a peaceful resolution of the conflict. He also urged the international community to intervene and provide humanitarian assistance to the millions of people in Gaza who are suffering from the lack of food, water, electricity, medicine and other basic necessities. He said that the Scottish Government stands in solidarity with the Palestinian people and supports their right to self-determination and statehood.
UK Foreign Office offers help to British nationals in Gaza
The UK Foreign Secretary, James Cleverly, said on Wednesday that the UK Government is ready to help British nationals who are trapped in Gaza and want to leave. He said that the UK has been in contact with the Egyptian authorities, who have opened the Rafah crossing, the only exit point from Gaza to Egypt, for a limited period of time. He said that the UK teams are on standby to assist British nationals who can reach the crossing and facilitate their departure.
Cleverly also said that the UK is deeply concerned about the escalating violence and the rising death toll in Gaza and Israel. He said that the UK condemns the indiscriminate attacks by Hamas and other terrorist groups and calls on them to stop firing rockets at civilian areas. He also said that the UK recognises Israel’s right to self-defence, but urges it to act proportionately and avoid civilian casualties. He said that the UK is working with its allies and partners to urge both sides to de-escalate and restore calm.
Cleverly said that the UK is committed to supporting a lasting peace in the Middle East and a two-state solution that respects the rights and aspirations of both Israelis and Palestinians. He said that the UK is one of the largest donors of humanitarian aid to the Palestinians and will continue to provide support to the UN agencies and NGOs that are delivering vital assistance to the people in need.
International community calls for an end to the violence and a political solution
The UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, has warned that the situation in Gaza and Israel is heading towards a “full-scale war” and has appealed to the leaders of both sides to halt the hostilities and prevent further bloodshed. He said that the UN is working with all parties to restore calm and facilitate dialogue. He said that the UN is also mobilising humanitarian and medical resources to help the affected populations, especially in Gaza, where the health system is on the verge of collapse due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the Israeli blockade.
The US President, Joe Biden, has expressed his support for Israel’s right to defend itself against the rocket attacks, but has also said that he hopes to see a de-escalation of the violence soon. He said that he has spoken to the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, and has urged them to pursue a path of dialogue and cooperation. He said that the US is committed to advancing the security and prosperity of both Israelis and Palestinians and to achieving a two-state solution that ensures their dignity and mutual respect.
The EU High Representative, Josep Borrell, has condemned the Hamas attacks on Israel and the Israeli strikes on Gaza as “unacceptable and indiscriminate” and has called for an immediate end to the fighting. He said that the EU is deeply concerned about the loss of innocent lives, the injuries and the damage caused by the violence. He said that the EU is in contact with all the relevant actors and is supporting the efforts of the UN and other mediators to broker a ceasefire and resume the peace process. He said that the EU reaffirms its support for a negotiated two-state solution that respects the legitimate rights and interests of both Israelis and Palestinians.