Scotland’s First Minister does not know if his in-laws in Gaza are alive or dead

Scotland’s First Minister has said he does not know if his parents-in-law who are trapped in Gaza are dead or alive after Israel knocked out communications there.

Humza Yousaf said he and his wife Nadia are “desperately worried” and that she is “numb” as they try to find out news about her parents.

Elizabeth El-Nakla and her husband Maged – the parents of Mr Yousaf’s wife – travelled to Gaza before hostilities flared up earlier this month to visit family and became trapped.

As Israel stepped up bombardment of Gaza and continued to expand its ground operation it has knocked out communications and created a near-blackout of information.

SNP annual conference
First Minister Humza Yousaf earlier this month with his wife Nadia whose parents are trapped in Gaza (Jane Barlow/PA)

Mr Yousaf said he has not heard from his in-laws since Friday.

He told BBC Scotland: “We haven’t heard from them obviously since the intensity of the bombing last night and you can imagine how desperately worried we are, and to be frank, we don’t know if they are alive or dead.

“And that is the reality not just facing us, clearly the reality for many people right across the world who haven’t heard from their loved ones who are trapped in Gaza and have been facing bombardment over the last three weeks.

“My wife is numb to be honest, I’m trying to do my best to give her some hope and we’re doing our best to try to keep ourselves distracted, and obviously calling as many phone numbers as we possibly can, as many relatives as we can across Gaza, with no luck this far.

“It’s having an impact, of course it is, and not just on my wife. I listened to my four-year-old daughter this morning pretending to phone her granny, and asking when she will come back.”

The First Minister reiterated his call for an immediate ceasefire.

Mr Yousaf said: “It is a desperately difficult situation for us personally but my thoughts are very much with the innocent men, women and children in Gaza who have been collectively punished intensely over the last few weeks for a crime that they did not commit and that’s why we need a ceasefire and we need one now.”

The First Minister previously wrote to all political leaders in the UK, urging them to back a ceasefire in Gaza.

In a letter understood to have been sent on Thursday evening, he said Israel has a right to defend itself following the attacks but added action must be taken now to stop the “staggering humanitarian disaster” unfolding in Gaza before it becomes “cataclysmic”.