A SCOTSMAN who is the Israeli army’s voice for speaking to the world has been thrust into the spotlight by the war in Gaza.

Lieutenant Colonel Richard Hecht is the Israeli Defence Forces’s (IDF) international spokesperson and was brought up in Newton Mearns, the centre of Scotland’s Jewish population.

Despite moving to Israel 40 years ago, Hecht still speaks with a strong Scottish accent.

Following the Palestinian militant group Hamas’s surprise attack on Israel this weekend, Hecht has been addressing the media and politicians to explain the Israeli military’s response, which has included putting Gaza under “complete siege”, raising fears many civilians will be killed in the densely-packed region.

Hecht told the Jewish News last year his family moved from East Renfrewshire to Israel in 1983.

“Our parents wanted to make a new start, I think they were tired of the diaspora,” he told the site.

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“But it was traumatic: we left a very comfortable lifestyle to live in spartan Israel in the 80s.”

Hecht went on to say how his family had moved to the El-Rom kibbutz, built on illegally occupied Palestinian land in the Golan Heights.

The UN considers Israel in breach of the Geneva Convention because of its occupation of places like the Golan Heights.

Kibbutzim are agricultural settlements, many of which were built on Palestinian land, and were initially run as socialist experiments where children were raised collectively and private property did not exist.

When El-Rom was privatised, Hecht said his family moved to Zichron Ya’akov, a small township in the north of Israel, but he now lives in the capital, Tel Aviv.

He was interviewed by Sky News on Monday and claimed the IDF was seeking to minimise “collateral damage” and attacks on civilians.

He said: “I have some people here that told me this morning that it’s the largest number of Israelis, Jews in one day since the Holocaust.

"I mean this is a, the scope of this is something different. It was a surprise attack and again, failures or what we’re not happy about, we’re going to sit down and learn what happened here.

"There’s going to be books about this, but right now we’re focused on gaining back control.”

Sky News presenter Mark Austin asked Hecht: “Your Prime Minister has said he wants to reduce many areas to rubble.

"Isn’t the truth that Gaza is a crammed, tiny area of two million people and it is simply impossible to avoid civilian casualties on the operation that is underway and about to take place?”

'We will do everything to minimise collateral damage'

Hecht replied: “Mark, one of the tragedies is that up till last week, we had a paradigm. The Erez Crossing, which is a humanitarian crossing, we expanded that crossing for people coming into Israel to work.

“It looked okay, contained and what you said about… they started this. If they didn’t do this, this wouldn’t have started, we just have to put that in mind.

“People in Gaza, we will do everything we can to minimise collateral damage and people that are not involved, very differently from them, we’ll notify people if we’re attacking an area.”

Hecht also briefed MSPs on the situation in Israel on Monday. 

Hamas have said their attacks on Israel came in response to the “desecration” of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem and Israeli attacks on Palestine.

Israeli newspaper Haaretz, considered the country's paper of record, published an editorial on Sunday which said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was solely responsible for the attacks.

The IDF have described Hamas as “animals” and said Gaza was under complete siege on Monday morning, with supplies of water, food, fuel and electricity to the region cut off.