Humza Yousaf ‘genuinely does not know’ if he will see in-laws again after being trapped in Gaza
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Elizabeth and Maged El-Nakla went to visit relatives in Gaza last week and became trapped after Hamas militants massacred hundreds of Israelis on Saturday, triggering an escalation in the conflict.
Mr Yousaf also accused the Israeli government of “going too far”. He told the BBC’s Chris Mason: “All of us have said that, myself included, but collective punishment cannot be justified.
“Yes, they are going too far, collective punishment cannot be justified. It is innocent men, women, children, babies, with nothing to do with Hamas, who are paying an extraordinary price for those atrocious attacks, that they have nothing to do with.”
On Friday, Mrs El-Nakla shared a video asking: “Where is humanity?” which Mr Yousaf told Sky News was a “really hard video to watch” for both him and his wife, Nadia El-Nakla. In an emotional interview, Mr Yousaf told Beth Rigby, Sky’s political editor, he did not know if he would see his in-laws again.
He said: “I do not know, I genuinely do not know if I will see my in-laws again. Nadia doesn’t know she’s going to see her mum and dad again. And all we can do is watch the news and look at all the rolling coverage.”
Despite being First Minister of Scotland, Mr Yousaf told Ms Rigby he felt “completely powerless” to help his mother and father-in-law. He said: “All we can do is try to tell people’s story. I cannot tell you how powerless and helpless I feel. Your first instinct is to protect your family as best you can and I am completely powerless.”
Mr Yousaf also revealed that his youngest daughter, Amal, four, asked him if “granny would be back in time for Halloween”, and that they had told her she was “scared of the thunder”.
They told her that she would be back, but Mr Yousaf told Sky News: “We honestly don’t know if she will.”
Mr Yousaf also spoke to Channel 5 News on Friday and said he had been in touch with a “junior minister” from the Foreign Office, but he was “pretty disappointed” Foreign Secretary James Cleverly had not been in contact with him.
Mr Yousaf completed a round of interviews with broadcasters on Friday ahead of the SNP conference in Aberdeen, which starts on Sunday. Mr Yousaf said he and his wife were “distressed” about the situation and pleaded with the international community to open up humanitarian corridors so that people can leave Gaza.
He was asked if the Prime Minister had been in touch. Mr Yousaf said: “No. No, and that’s disappointing, but, look, I accept the Prime Minister has lots to do and lots to get on with.”
On Thursday, Mr Yousaf sought to comfort the family of a Scot who died in the Hamas attacks on Israel on Saturday. He attended a service of solidarity at Giffnock Newton Mearns Synagogue in East Renfrewshire, which was attended by Bernard Cowan’s mother.
Pictures show Mr Yousaf and Mr Cowan’s mother embracing during the service. Speaking to the more than 500-strong crowd, the First Minister said: “Your grief is my grief.”