Humza Yousaf tells ITV News' Peter Smith of his struggles to get his family out of Gaza safely, as he lobbies the UK government to establish a humanitarian corridor out of the area
Today’s interview was slightly delayed because Scotland’s first minister had to take an urgent call from Gaza first.
His mother and father-in-law are currently trapped there, and with Israel giving 24 hours notice for a mass evacuation of north Gaza, he is trying desperately to get his family out to safety.
He says he has tried to use his powers as first minister to raise their case with the Foreign Office, writing to James Cleverly and asking for the establishment of a humanitarian corridor out of Gaza before Israel’s expected ground assault begins.
Humza Yousaf tells me there has been no reply.
“I have to say I am pretty disappointed that James Cleverly, the foreign secretary, hasn’t been in touch,” the Scottish first minister tells me.
“He knows there are two UK citizens that I’ve told him about that are in Gaza. There will be many more, I suspect, that he knows about.”
If even Mr Yousaf's family are trapped in Gaza and unable to be given safe passage out, he says this is damning for the fate of the others there who are not being allowed to leave.
“It’s a simple principal: the life of a Palestinian is equal to that of an Israeli.”
He says the UK government has not mirrored that view so far. So I ask in no uncertain terms: do you think the UK government values the life of Palestinians as much as it values Israelis?
“No, I don’t,” he responds.
He has called for Westminster to use its trusted position as an ally of Israel to call for restraint and to value the lives of innocent Palestinians.
He also wants to see the UK sending aid rather than warships to the region, adding the Scottish government is now actively exploring options to send humanitarian aid into Gaza.
“I can speak to my mother-in-law, and father-in-law’s position,” he says.
“I want to use my voice to say there are 2.2 million innocent people in Gaza, the overwhelming majority will be innocent, nothing to do with Hamas, who are suffering a human catastrophe.
"And the international community has to step up.”
These are unusual and exceptional circumstances for the first minister to be doing interviews.
While dealing with the Middle East crisis and its impact on his own family, he is also preparing to give his first speech to the SNP conference as party leader.
“It has been a challenging, and eventful first six months,” he says about taking over from Nicola Sturgeon.
The events in his personal life are currently putting party politics into some perspective.
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