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9 Oct, 2023 18:00

Scotland’s first minister says relatives ‘trapped’ in Gaza

Humza Yousaf’s in-laws have “nowhere to go” as Israel bombs the Palestinian territory
Scotland’s first minister says relatives ‘trapped’ in Gaza

The parents of Scotland's first minister’s wife are currently in Gaza visiting family and cannot get out, Humza Yousaf told reporters on Monday. Yousaf emphasized that most residents of Gaza have nothing to do with Hamas or terrorism, as Israel launched huge reprisal airstrikes on the city.

Yousaf’s wife, Nadia, is of Palestinian origin. Her parents had traveled to Gaza to visit her 93-year-old-grandfather and “are currently trapped in Gaza, I’m afraid,” Yousaf told reporters. Israel has told everyone in the territory to leave because “Gaza will effectively be obliterated,” he added, but no one has been able to guarantee his relatives safe passage, “despite the best efforts of the British Foreign Office.”

The official had first mentioned the plight of his in-laws on Saturday, posting on X (formerly Twitter) that “my thoughts and prayers are very much with those worried about loved ones caught up in this awful situation.”

“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,” Yousef elaborated on Monday, adding that he and his wife “can’t sleep” and are constantly watching their phones waiting for any sort of reply.

“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,” Yousaf said. “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.”

The Gaza-based Palestinian armed group Hamas launched thousands of missiles at Israel and sent militants to infiltrate Jewish settlements on Saturday morning. Fighting has continued ever since, with hundreds of people killed and injured on both sides.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has declared that his country was “at war” and promised Hamas unprecedented retaliation. On Monday, Israel Defense Forces (IDF) launched dozens of airstrikes against Gaza.

Born in Glasgow to Pakistani immigrants, Yousaf became Scotland’s first minister in March, the first Muslim in that post since it was created in 1997. He and Nadia El-Nakla married in 2019, after divorcing their first spouses two years prior.