Scotland leader Yousaf condemns ‘Islamaphobic’ media smears against him after sending $321k aid to Gaza

Scotland’s first minister Humza Yousaf has condemned accusations that he had a conflict of interest when authorising funding for humanitarian relief in the Gaza Strip, calling it an “outrageous smear” and “far right conspiracy”.

In November last year, the Scottish government donated £250,000 ($321,000) to the United Nations’ Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) for humanitarian aid to be delivered to Gaza, in what Edinburgh said was its response to a flash appeal for emergency aid into the besieged strip.

According to The Daily Telegraph newspaper, Scottish ministers and officials at the time recommended that Yousaf send between £100,000 and £200,000 to the UN’s International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) for water programmes instead. The first minister’s move directly contradicting that advice, however, with Yousaf reportedly having told officials prior to a meeting with UNRWA delegates that “we should just announce an extra £250k to them”.

There has since been a flurry of articles published by media outlets accusing Yousaf of funding Palestinian resistance group Hamas – due to allegations that some of the refugee agency’s members were present during the Hamas operation into Israel on 7 October – and opponents of the first minister have even gone so far as to accuse him of having broken ministerial code, as well as having had a conflict of interest as some of his in-laws were trapped in Gaza at the time.

Following what he called the media “smears” against him and his family, Humza Yousaf condemned the accusations in posts on X, stating that “the Scottish government gave money to Gaza, like virtually every government in the West, because of the unarguable humanitarian catastrophe that has unfolded there.” He reasoned that “Funding to UNRWA was deemed the most flexible way of ensuring money got to where it was needed. Hence why so many governments, including the UK, gave millions to them.”

The Scottish first minister insisted that the UN agency “had nothing to do with my in-laws being able to leave Gaza. They were able to leave Gaza due to the hard work of the crisis team at the FCDO, like every other British national…To suggest otherwise is a flat-out lie & smear.”

He accused the reports of being “Islamophobic attacks” that are “desperate to link me to terrorism despite campaigning my whole life against it”. Yousaf lamented that “there will always be those, particularly on the far-right, who will desperately try to “prove” my loyalties lie elsewhere. That I am a fifth columnist in the only country I call home, the country I love and the country I have the privilege of leading.”

(Source: MEMO)