This is an adapted version of the speech Allan Dorans, SNP MP for Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock was due to give in the Commons on Wednesday, during an SNP opposition debate calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. 

ON November 3, Elizabeth El-Nakla, a retired Scottish nurse, crossed the border from Gaza into safety in Egypt, with her husband. They had been visiting in-laws, one of whom is an A&E doctor in Gaza.

Elizabeth is also the mother-in-law of Scotland’s First Minister, Humza Yousaf. The visit had been, for her, “a living nightmare” lasting four weeks, under a constant rain of bombs and missiles.

She had been lucky. Very lucky.

Dima Alhaj, a World Health Organisation aid-worker with a master’s degree from Glasgow University, gained during an Erasmus exchange in 2019, was not lucky.

On November 21, after evacuating on advice from the Israeli Government, from Gaza City to her parent’s house in southern Gaza, it was bombed.

She died alongside her husband and six-month old baby boy. More than 50 relatives and neighbours, sheltering there, also died.

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Aid workers too, have paid a heavy and often unreported price in these tragic events. 152 UN workers have died in Gaza, all but two while they were off duty, in their homes, shopping or meeting with friends.

By the beginning of February 2024, at least 167 aid workers in total and 300 health workers had been killed.

More UN aid workers have been killed in Gaza than in any other conflict in the organization’s history.

The killing of aid and health workers is both unacceptable and illegal. The World Medical Association has made this clear repeatedly.

Israel and those nations supporting and arming her, including the US and the UK, have signed up to these agreements and their neglect of them is both criminal and hypocritical.

Why is it hypocritical?

In 2016, as the governments of Russia and Iran were accused of bombing hospitals and of killing of health workers in Syria, the UN Security Council members, including the US and the UK, condemned them.

Journalists too, have paid a heavy price to bring us the only independent reports of events on the ground without which we have only the partisan media releases from the combatants to rely on.

At least 126 journalists have been killed in Gaza since October 7, while 10 others have been arrested. All have been Arabs or from other mainly Muslim countries and none have worked for Western news agencies.

That no Western journalist has been killed, out of 126 deaths, tells us something about the underlying attitudes to these people, of Israeli soldiers.

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Some Palestinian and other Arab journalists feel they have been targeted and threatened with death to deliberately remove them and their voices from the scenes of death and destruction and so conceal these war crimes from the rest of the world.

One Al Jazeera journalist reported receiving a telephone message, claiming to be from the IDF (Israel Defences Forces) and telling her to get her family out of Gaza or their lives would be “in danger”. This followed only four days after one of her colleagues lost his whole family in an airstrike.

In November 2023, eight BBC journalists wrote to complain that the BBC had been failing to tell the story of the Israel-Palestine conflict accurately, investing greater effort in humanising Israeli victims compared with Palestinians, and omitting important historical context in coverage.

This failure to tell audiences how the Palestinians in Gaza were violently driven there, eighty years ago, from their previous homes in what is now Israel, and to report the deaths and devastation fully and graphically in Gaza, has resulted in a lack of understanding and empathy in Western audiences.

Those committing violence against aid and health workers and against journalists are never prosecuted for their crimes. This climate of impunity contributes to spiralling insecurity and lawlessness.

To stem and even reverse this tide, international judiciary systems and national governments need to step up their efforts.