Ian is calling on the Government to do more to ensure aid is allowed in to Gaza, after he saw three Scottish trucks of medical supplies turned away at the border.
Ian travelled to the region as part of a five-day visit, organised by the Council for European Palestinian Relations.
During the trip he saw the three vehicles – which had made the 32-day journey from Scotland by road – waiting at the Rafah Crossing, between Egypt and Gaza.
But he later found out they had been turned away, because the Egyptian authorities were unhappy about some of the items they contained.
Ian believes the medical supplies would have made a real difference to the lives of people in Gaza, pointing to estimates that 500 Palestinians have died in the past three years because of a lack of medication.
Following his return he has written to Foreign Secretary William Hague to ask that the Government urgently investigates the amount of aid from the UK that is being turned away from the Gaza border.
And he says Parliament should be asked to consider whether the Government should call for the Rafa Crossing to be fully open.
Following his return from Gaza, Ian said: “At the Rafa Crossing we saw three large trucks that had travelled from Scotland with much needed medical supplies. They had already travelled by road for 32 days to get there. And they had been waiting at the Crossing for two.
“But we later found out they were refused entry – because the Egyptian authorities were unhappy with two of the items in the trucks.
“Even when it was reluctantly suggested that those two items were removed, so the trucks could continue, I am told the authorities raised concerns about another two items. The trucks were turned away.
“Hundreds of people are dying in Gaza – particularly children and cancer patients – because they don’t have access to medication. It is impossible to over-estimate the difference the aid in these trucks would have made.
“Of course the authorities’ concerns in this case may have been legitimate. I am not in a position to know. But anecdotally I hear that this is far from an isolated instance. And that greatly concerns me.
“So now I have written to the Foreign Secretary to ask him to investigate the amount of aid that is being turned away.
“Certainly if it is the case that large amounts of aid are being needlessly turned away from a population that desperately needs it, it would be tantamount to torture. And we cannot stand by and allow that to happen.
“Whatever the increasingly polarised views of the Palestine/Israel situation are, what is clear is that people – and children in particular – are dying needlessly from political dogma.
“I believe the Rafa Crossing should be fully open and Palestine should be allowed to stand on its own two feet.”
During the trip Ian saw how desperately the supplies were needed in Gaza City, during a visit to the Al-Shifa Hospital.
“The hospital is crippled by a lack of funding, lack of training due to lack of travel, a lack of spare parts and a lack of specialists,” said Ian.
“The power supply deficiency means that every time the power goes down kidney dialysis machines have to be unplugged from patients, the blood cleaned and then restarted.
“And while Gaza City has one of the most advanced radiology units in the Middle East, it lies dormant because the import of radio-therapy drugs for cancer patients is prohibited.”
During the trip Ian also heard about the work of the UNWRA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees), which provides Gaza with basic food supplies and job creation programmes.
He heard about the UNWRA’s involvement in the reconstruction of 10,000 homes and 100 schools, which he was told was hampered by lack of access to building materials.
And although the Rafa Crossing is the only legal entry and exit point between Palestine and Egypt, he was told about the network of 300 illegal tunnels which are used to transport goods and the estimated 1.5 million people are surviving on these illegal imports.
“Peace and justice in the Middle East can only be achieved through the implementation of international law and respect for human rights,” said Ian.
“In respect of Palestine this means a viable two state solution that delivers justice and freedom for the Palestinian people as called for by the overwhelming international consensus and enshrined under international law and in UN resolutions.”