Yousaf: UK may be complicit in Gaza deaths if arms exports to Israel continue

Scotland’s First Minister Humza Yousaf has urged the UK Government to rethink its plans to continue to allow arms exports to Israel – warning it risks being “complicit in the killing of innocent civilians”.

Mr Yousaf said it was “difficult to comprehend” that the UK Government has not ended the licensing of arms exports to Israel despite the deaths of tens of thousands of Palestinians, the majority women and children, since last October.

He condemned the attacks by Hamas on October 7 which sparked the conflict but said the response “has gone far beyond any legitimate response”.

Mr Yousaf wrote letters to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on February 23 and April 3 to raise concerns, and cited an open letter signed by more than 600 legal experts warning of “potential UK complicity in grave breaches of international law, including violations of the Genocide Convention”.

Bafta Scotland award ceremony
Humza Yousaf and wife Nadia El-Nakla who is of Palestinian heritage (Jane Barlow/PA Wire)

In his reply to Lord Ahmad on April 12, the First Minster wrote: “I welcome the UK Government’s stated commitment to International Humanitarian Law, our diplomats’ contribution to finally achieving a UN Security Council Resolution, and the UK’s wider efforts to bring an end to the tragedy befalling the people of the Middle East.

“I share with you the grief at the killing of three British aid workers, along with every other innocent man, woman and child killed in Gaza and Israel since Hamas’s terrorist attacks of October 7 and Israel’s response, which has gone far beyond any legitimate response.

“In spite of everything in your reply, I note you have not agreed to end the licence of arms exports to Israel, which means the UK will continue to arm Israel’s war in Gaza, that has left tens of thousands dead, the majority reported to be women and children.

Royal visit to Democratic Republic of Congo
Lord Ahmad responded to the First Minister’s letter (Jane Barlow/PA)

“I find it difficult to comprehend that this continues to be the United Kingdom’s position against the backdrop of the ICJ ruling; UN Security Council, General Assembly and Human Rights Council Resolutions; countless UN officials’ statements about the catastrophic humanitarian situation in Gaza; and the recent open letter signed by over 600 legal professionals warning of potential UK complicity in grave breaches of international law, including violations of the Genocide Convention.

“If this, alongside the killing of British nationals among at least 35,000 dead – the majority of whom are innocent women and children – is insufficient to change your policy, what more will it take?”

The UK Government has been contacted for comment.

– Advertisement –
– Advertisement –