IN the thin strip of land that forms Gaza, the median age is 19. According to the UN secretary-general the situation is unbearable. “If there is a hell on earth, it is the lives of children in Gaza, Antonio Guterres said.

Life is reduced to mere survival, under the constant pressure of the kind of systematic oppression which results in the imprisonment of thousands of Palestinians, often without charge or judicial process.

Some 80% of Gazans live in poverty, while 95% of the water supply is “unfit for human use”. The blockade imposed on Gaza since 2007 constitutes collective punishment, as UN Special Rapporteur Francesca Albanese has said.

It has had ruinous effects on the young population who have only known insecurity and impoverishment. Four out of five children in the Gaza Strip suffer from depression, sadness and fear, as reported by Save the Children. British Palestinian writer Hamza Ali Shah sums up the situation for the youth of Gaza and the dehumanisation of Palestinian life: “A 14-year-old child in Gaza has experienced five successive bombing campaigns and lived their entire life under siege.”

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This is all before the bombing and ground invasion spanning the last five weeks. In that time, the daily rate of children being killed in Gaza exceeds the combined total for every other recent conflict – Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen, Ukraine and Iraq.

Shamefully, US president Joe Biden and others, have set out to deny the scale of the massacre.

The total siege of Gaza means essentials such as food, water, medicine and anaesthesia are running out or no longer available. The health system has collapsed and damage to the sewage works means disease is spreading, while there are around 50,000 pregnant women, incubators are at risk as fuel runs out.

The National: A wounded boy is carried after an Israeli strike in Deir Al-Balah, southern Gaza Strip

The World Health Organisation says: “With 14 hospitals and 45 primary health care centres closed, some women are having to give birth in shelters, in their homes, in the streets amid rubble, or in overwhelmed healthcare facilities, where sanitation is worsening and the risk of infection and medical complications is on the rise.”

There is no space here to go into the detail of the various war crimes being committed, but it is being meticulously recorded by the likes of Amnesty International.

The humanitarian crisis is partly why calls for a ceasefire are so widespread, from the editorial board of the Financial Times, to aid agencies and charities such as Oxfam, to the Stop the War Coalition and the United Nations.

Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer, in true vassal state fashion, simply parrot the line of the White House, and have green-lighted the catastrophe. Hundreds of leading lawyers have written to the UK Government outlining their legal responsibilities and citing violations of international law.

The National: Rishi Sunak and Sir Keir Starmer

Instead of moral leadership, there has been a collapse of basic humanity.

On the other hand, Scotland’s First Minister and the SNP support an immediate ceasefire. Humza Yousaf is joined by the leader of Scottish Labour Anas Sarwar. This week the Welsh Senned formally passed a ceasefire motion.

It is time now for the Scottish Parliament to follow suit. Every ounce of pressure that can be brought to bear is required. With the Welsh and Scottish parliaments formally behind a ceasefire, it would further isolate and expose the UK leadership who offer no credible argument to oppose one.

In the words of a UN press release, the grave danger of a second Nakba rises with every hour that passes, involving ethnic cleansing and land annexation. That is to say nothing of the live possibility of a regional war, with global dimensions. Thus, the urgency could not be any greater.

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Defence and foreign policy are reserved. But that didn’t stop the Scottish Parliament from passing a motion in support of the disastrous Iraq War at Holyrood in 2003.

It is time to set a new precedent in the parliament by passing a resolution calling for a ceasefire.

That will add momentum to the only outcome worth fighting for – an end to the violence; a sustained international mobilisation of aid to Gaza; space to conduct independent investigations into war crimes; and a political solution that can establish a peace process with justice for the Palestinians and security for all at its core.

Campaigner Gordon Maloney has released a useful tool for you to contact your MSP to raise the demand for an immediate ceasefire, which can be found here: