Responding to the question from SNP MSP Sandra White, Glasgow-Kelvin, “What action has the Scottish Government taken regarding the situation in Gaza?”, Scottish External Affairs Minister Humza Yousaf stated:
“The Scottish Government condemns in the strongest possible terms the escalating cycle of violence, be that rocket attacks or airstrikes, in Gaza and Israel, and its disproportionate impact in particular on civilians in Gaza, who the UN estimates make up of some 75% of the Palestinian dead.
“We’re apalled that the death toll now stands at over 1,800 inlcuding nearly 400 children. We’re pleased to know that a ceasefire was announced last night and the withdrawal of Israeli troops reported this morning and a call for meaningful peace talks [made].”
He outlined contributions by the Scottish government towards humanitarian aid and offers of specialist medical treatment in Scotland.
He continued to state that the Scottish Government calls “for an immediate lifting of the blockade in Gaza, which we believe to be tantamount to collective punishment.”
“We cannot, should not and must not stand idly by while innocent civilians are being killed. I am today on behalf of the Scottish government calling for an immediate arms embargo to Israel.
“The UN has said that there is a strong possibility that international law has been violated and the UN Secretary General has described the recent shelling of a school in Rafah as a criminal act.
“It is imperative we decipher whether or not UK arms have been used in any violation of international law. Until that has been confirmed the UK must implement a complete arms embargo to Israel.”
Further responding to SNP MSP Sandra White, Humza Yousaf continued that the Scottish Government calls for “an immediate UN investigation into all civilian deaths. Those who have violated international law must feel the full force of international law and be brought to justice – on all sides.
He condemned the indiscriminate rocket attacks from Gaza, adding, however, that the Scottish Government “have condemned the actions of the Israeli government in Gaza as heavily disproportionate.”
“Children playing on a beach … or sleeping in a UN shelter are not terrorists; they have committed no crime.”
Labour MSP Patricia Ferguson, Shadow Culture and External Affairs Secretary, expressed her hope that the ceasefire will hold and that humanitarian aid will reach those most in need.
Deploring the loss of lives on both sides, Ms Ferguson expressed utter condemnation of “the targeting of UN schools, particularly when we now know that the UN has guaranteed that there are no missiles, no weapons and no terrorists occupying those particular facilities, by the Israeli forces.”
Ms Ferguson further condemned “the sheer scale of the loss of lives in the small strip of land the Palestinians inhabit.
“The only way this apalling tragedy will end is if the world community backs a secure Israel and a viable Palestinian state, the end of illegal settlements, the dismantling of the separation wall and the restoration of water and fuel supplies to Gaza as soon as possible.”
Humza Yousaf expressed his complete agreement with Ms Ferguson, citing UN Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillai who said that there was a strong possibility that international law has been violated, and that a UN investigation with international partners was imperative.
He stated: “The UK must show urgency to support peace … by dismantling the separation wall, the removal of illegal settlements and, of course, the lifting of the inhumane and illegitimate blockade of Gaza”, which has been described by the Scottish First Minister as “an open-air prison” in which no civilian person should be forced to live.
The minister reaffirmed the Scottish government’s commitment to the two-state solution but stressed that “action towards that must be immediate”. Mr Yousaf also condemned Hamas’s objectives.
MSPs are expected to attend following First Minister’s Questions at 12.30, when there will be a photo opportunity.