Scotland’s First Minister has said his relatives in Gaza face an “indescribable” festive period as the conflict with Israel continues.
Humza Yousaf, who appealed for peace in the region during his Christmas message, told reporters the war will not take a break despite the rest of the world stopping to celebrate the holiday with their families.
Mr Yousaf revealed in October that his mother-in-law and father-in-law Elizabeth and Maged El-Nakla were trapped in Gaza after travelling there to visit family.
In the same month, Mr Yousaf also broke down in tears during a TV interview during which he said he feared he would never see them again.
They spent four weeks stuck in Gaza, with two weeks spent in a house where 100 people were sheltering.
The pair have since managed to return to Dundee through the Rafah crossing into Egypt.
But other relatives of Mr Yousaf and his wife Nadia El-Nakla remain in war-torn Gaza.
Mr Yousaf’s brother-in-law Mohammed, a doctor working at Nasser Hospital in southern Gaza, is still in the besieged territory along with his wife and four children, the youngest who is just a few months old.
“We spoke to our family yesterday and the situation is beyond anything that I could ever imagine, it’s indescribable really,” Mr Yousaf told Press Association.
“For all of us who will be celebrating with family, will be having lots of good food to tuck into on Christmas, I really think it’s important that we take a moment to reflect on the fact that those in Gaza, Ukraine, many right across the world, that are suffering the horrors of war, I’m afraid for them, the horrors of war will not take a break during the Christmas period, so my thought and my prayers are very much with the people of Gaza.
“And remembering of course, that is the region of Christ’s birth and they are suffering terribly and horrendously.
“So I’ll be thinking of all of those people across the world who are suffering, and praying for peace sooner rather than later.”
Since the latest escalation of the Israel-Hamas conflict which began with the Hamas attack on Israel on 7 October, Mr Yousaf has repeatedly called for a full ceasefire to be agreed between the two.
Earlier this month, Mr Yousaf shared information on the hospital his brother-in-law worked at, saying the situation there was “petrifying”.
He shared a post by Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organisation, who said Nasser Hospital is three times over capacity and conditions are “beyond inadequate”.
In November, the Scottish Parliament backed an immediate ceasefire in Gaza in response to a motion tabled by Mr Yousaf.
Labour MSPs broke with the UK party’s stance on the issue to support an immediate end to the fighting.