Ground invasion of Rafah would cause devastation – Yousaf

Scotland’s First Minister Humza Yousaf has said a threatened Israeli ground invasion of the Gazan city of Rafah would cause “devastation beyond comprehension”.

Mr Yousaf said such action by Israel would be “indefensible”, and urged the international community to demand an immediate ceasefire.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has asked the military to plan for the evacuation of hundreds of thousands of people in Rafah ahead of an expected ground invasion.

The city, on the southern border with Egypt, is providing refuge to more than half of Gaza’s population of 2.3 million people.

Mr Yousaf commented on a statement posted on X, formerly Twitter, by Irish deputy premier Micheal Martin who said expanded military operations in Rafah would pose a “grave threat” to the estimated 1.5 million Palestinians sheltering there and must be condemned.

He said all countries must demand an immediate humanitarian ceasefire.

Mr Yousaf posted on X: “Ireland is right.

“Israel displaced millions of innocent men, women & children to south Gaza.

“They have nowhere to go. Israel’s threatened action in Rafah is indefensible & will cause devastation beyond comprehension. International community must demand an immediate ceasefire.”

According to Israel, Rafah is the last remaining stronghold for Hamas fighters in Gaza, after more than four months of conflict sparked by the deadly October 7 Hamas attack on Israel.

It is not clear where civilians in Rafah could move to as Israeli evacuation orders now cover two-thirds of Gaza.

UK Foreign Secretary Lord David Cameron has said he is “deeply concerned” about the situation.

He posted on X: “Deeply concerned about the prospect of a military offensive in Rafah – over half of Gaza’s population are sheltering in the area.

Humza Yousaf
Mr Yousaf warned of devastation in Rafah (Steve Welsh/PA)

“The priority must be an immediate pause in the fighting to get aid in and hostages out, then progress towards a sustainable, permanent ceasefire.”

The latest figures from the Hamas-run health ministry put the overall Palestinian death toll at more than 28,000.

Mr Yousaf’s parents-in-law were trapped in Gaza at the outbreak of hostilities last year following a trip to visit their relatives there.

Elizabeth and Maged El-Nakla, from Dundee, were eventually able to leave Gaza through the Rafah crossing.