WHAT’S happening in Gaza is appalling.

The protection of women and children in conflict is longstanding not just within the Geneva Accords and other rules brought in after horrific world wars. St Adomnum, the Abbot of Iona and better known as Columba’s biographer, promulgated the Laws of the Innocents as long ago as 697AD. That was in relation to wars between Celtic tribes and, though some aspects would still be seen as barbaric, the protection of women and children in conflict was still held to be sacrosanct.

As I stated in a question to the UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly last week, that this barbarity is being perpetrated all these centuries on is a stain on our world. The terrorism of Hamas and the kidnapping of civilians has to be condemned unreservedly. However, the response by Israel has been entirely disproportionate and constitutes war crimes according to many rights and aid organisations. Collective punishment for individual sins is entirely unacceptable and must cease.

As I also said to the Minister, rather than supinely accepting the dictum of Israel and the USA, he should instead heed the wise counsel of President Higgins of Ireland, who has called for an immediate ceasefire. It’s highly regrettable that the UK did not support a motion by Brazil at the UN calling for just that.

The Irish President has also gone on to add that there must also be justice for the Palestinian people if we are ever going to end the cycle of violence. These events are dreadful but they’re the continuation of actions and reactions ongoing for decades. I read the book I Shall Not Hate by Dr Izzeldin Abuelaish, who had three daughters killed by an Israeli airstrike over a decade ago. His humanity and decency I fear will not be shared by others, which is why peace and justice must prevail.

It’s another reason why I support Scottish independence. This is not in my name, and I wish we could have a leader like President Higgins.