SCOTLAND stands willing to accept Palestinians displaced by the ongoing Israel-Gaza conflict, the Government said.
External affairs minister Humza Yousaf described the start of a ground offensive by Israeli forces last night as a “serious and worrying development”, and condemned the killings of civilians on both sides.
He has written to UK Home Secretary Theresa May saying Scotland would be willing to take in Palestinian refugees.
Mr Yousaf said: “The lives lost in this conflict are individual human tragedies and the killing of innocent civilians, be they Palestinian or Israeli, is to be utterly condemned.
“The rocket attacks on Israel are unacceptable and should stop, as should the Israeli offensive in Gaza, which is heavily disproportionate, as demonstrated by the mounting civilian death toll.
“As a Government we continue to call for a complete cessation to all violence and add our voice to those in the international community for an immediate, longer-term ceasefire, and that both sides in this conflict put an end to the violence that is causing so many civilian deaths and injuries.
“The worsening humanitarian situation in Gaza has been well-documented and the UN now estimates that over 18,000 people have been internally displaced.
“I have today written to the Home Secretary and told her that Scotland would be willing to accept Palestinian refugees and urged the UK to also play a part in easing the refugee crisis in Gaza and the occupied Palestinian territories.”
Israel launched a ground operation late last night after a 10-day campaign of more than 2,000 air strikes against Gaza that had failed to halt Hamas rocket fire on Israeli cities.
Thousands of Israeli soldiers crossed into the Gaza Strip to try to destroy Hamas’s rocket-firing abilities and the tunnels militants use to access Israel.
Mr Yousaf said: “It is essential that the UN should be allowed to independently investigate all civilian deaths to determine whether there has been any violation of international law.
“Our offer of medical assistance to help the humanitarian situation still stands and we are currently in dialogue with the appropriate governments and agencies to assess whether Scotland can give specialist medical help to civilians caught up in the conflict, should this prove possible.
“The Scottish Government also believes that the continuation of the blockade in Gaza is exacerbating the suffering experienced by the people there and tantamount to collective punishment.
“For that reason, I recently wrote to the UK Government to exert further pressure on the Israeli government to bring that blockade to an end.”