Scotland’s First Minister has said his parents in-law are “trapped” in Gaza after visiting family, leaving him worried if they will “make it through the night”.
The parents of Humza Yousaf’s wife, Nadia El-Nakla, were in Gaza visiting family when Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel this weekend, killing hundreds, according to reports.
Speaking to journalists on Monday, a visibly emotional Mr Yousaf said: “As many will know, my wife is Palestinian, her mum and dad, my in-laws, who live in Dundee, live in Scotland, they’ve been in Gaza and are currently trapped in Gaza, I’m afraid.”
The couple went to visit the 93-year-old mother of Mr Yousaf’s father-in-law when the Hamas attack took place.
“Despite the best efforts of the British Foreign Office, nobody, nobody can guarantee them safe passage anywhere,” Mr Yousaf said.
“So I’m in a situation where, frankly, night by night, day by day, we don’t know whether or not my mother-in-law and father-in-law – who have nothing to do, as most Gazans don’t, with Hamas or with any terror attack – whether they will make it through the night or not.”
Mr Yousaf also issued an “unequivocal condemnation” of the Hamas attack.
“When our messages do get through, we’re waiting for a reply.”
He added: “I’m worried about my family – there will be many people, including in Scotland’s Jewish community for example, who will be really worried about their family in Israel that have come to harm.
“My thoughts go out to everybody, because innocent civilians have nothing to do with the conflict, they have nothing to do with Hamas terror, have nothing to do with the loss of life and they’re the ones often – innocent people – who are paying the price.”
Mr Yousaf’s brother in-law is a doctor and lives in Gaza with his wife and four young children, the youngest being two months old.
He 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’m afraid not yet. 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.”
In a letter to Mr Yousaf on Monday, Tory MSP Jackson Carlaw – whose Eastwood constituency boasts the biggest Jewish community in Scotland – asked that the agreement be scrapped if he agreed with comments from a Green MSP.
On Sunday, Maggie Chapman posted on X, formerly Twitter, saying the Hamas attack was a “consequence of apartheid”.
In his letter, Mr Carlaw said: “I would like to ask you if you agree with the comments made by Maggie Chapman and if they reflect the current position of the SNP-Green Government.
“If not, and given the brutality of Hamas’ actions, will you dismiss Green ministers from the Scottish Government and terminate the Bute House Agreement because appearing to excuse the actions of Hamas should be unacceptable for any party in Scotland, especially given their recent terrorist attacks.”
Responding to the calls, Mr Yousaf said: “I have seen the tweet, and Maggie Chapman is responsible for what Maggie Chapman says.
“To somehow equate what is happening in the geo-political situation between Israel and Palestine, to reduce it to an issue about whether the Bute House Agreement can go on or shouldn’t go on, I think is terribly crass.”
He went on to describe the attacks as “unjustifiable”, expressing his Government’s support for a two-state solution.
“Innocent civilians being killed will not help us towards peace and an innocent Israeli life is worth, of course, the same as an innocent Palestinian life.
“An innocent child getting killed, it doesn’t matter whether they’re Palestinian or Israeli.”