Humza Yousaf said he is “praying his family survive the night” as Gaza came under heavy bombardment, with Israel preparing for a full-scale ground invasion.

Scotland’s First Minister said he has so far been unable to contact his wife’s mother and her husband after communications were cut off as bombing of the Gaza Strip intensified.

Elizabeth El-Nakla and her husband Maged travelled to the region prior the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7 and have been trapped since Israel’s retaliation.

The First Minister wrote on X, formerly Twitter: “Gaza is under intense bombing. Telecommunications have been cut off.

“We can’t get through to our family who have been trapped in this war zone for almost three weeks.

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“We can only pray they survive the night.

“How many more children have to die before the world says enough?”

Mr Yousaf’s remarks come just hours after it emerged he had written to every political leader in the UK to urge them to back a ceasefire in Gaza.

In a letter believed to have been sent on Thursday evening, he acknowleged Israel has a right to defend itself after the attacks – but called for action to stop the “staggering humanitarian disaster” unfolding in Gaza before it becomes “cataclysmic”.

Mr Yousaf wroite: “The abhorrent terrorist attacks carried out by Hamas on October 7 must be unequivocally condemned, and I will continue to join you in doing so.

“Hamas must release immediately and unconditionally all hostages and cease its missile attacks on Israel.

“The killing of innocent civilians can never be justified, wherever it occurs. Israel, like every other country, has a right to protect itself from attack, but in doing so it must comply with international law.

“Food, water, fuel, and medicine are being restricted, with limited humanitarian supplies – nowhere near enough – being allowed in.”

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The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), which is the largest humanitarian agency working in Gaza, has warned that unless fuel is allowed into Gaza immediately, the agency will be forced to halt all operations as of today, Mr Yousaf pointed out.

He continued: “I am, therefore, writing to ask for your support in helping to stop the staggering humanitarian disaster we are witnessing, which is set to get even worse.

“We should stand together and unite in unequivocally calling on all parties to commit to an immediate ceasefire to allow a humanitarian corridor to be opened, so that lifesaving supplies can get into Gaza and innocent civilians who want to leave be given safe passage out.

“The situation in Gaza is at the point of being cataclysmic.

“All of us must do everything we can to prevent that.

“There must be no more dithering, or delay, together we must call for an immediate ceasefire.”

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, the leaders of the major parties in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and the conveners of the Westminster Foreign Affairs Select Committee and Holyrood’s External Affairs Committee have all received Mr Yousaf’s letter.

Anas Sarwar, Scottish Labour leader, has also called for a ceasefire.

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