LONDON: Scotland’s first minister on Tuesday called on Israel to lift its siege of the Gaza Strip, and on Hamas to release hostages taken in its Oct. 7 attack.

Humza Yousaf, who has family members trapped in Gaza, made the remarks while addressing the Scottish National Party annual conference.

He said Gaza is under “constant bombardment” and “too many men, women and children are suffering,” adding that “collective punishment” of Palestinians can “never be justified.”

He said what Hamas had done to Israeli civilians was “truly heart-breaking,” and he condemned it “in the strongest possible manner.”

Adding that international aid needs to be allowed to reach those in need in Gaza, Yousaf said: “We are absolutely clear that the life of a Palestinian is equal to the life of an Israeli.”

He urged the UK government to establish a resettlement scheme for Palestinian refugees as part of a global effort to alleviate suffering, saying his brother-in-law, currently working as a doctor in Gaza, has described it as “scenes of carnage.”
Yousaf told the conference: “Let me be clear, Scotland is ready to play her part and our hospitals will treat the injured men, women and children of Gaza where we can.”

He added: “As long as I am first minister, let me be abundantly clear: There is no room for antisemitism, Islamophobia or hatred of any kind here in Scotland.”

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