A senior minister in the Israeli government has criticised the SNP-led Scottish Government’s position on his country as “the harshest in Europe”.

Michael Oren, a historian who is now deputy minister in the Israeli Prime Minister’s office, also accused the Scottish Government of “gratuitously misreading” international law when it described Israel’s attacks on Gaza as “disproportionate”.

Oren spoke to the Herald at the Knesset – Israel’s Parliament – in Jerusalem last week as rockets fell on Israeli towns and cities.

The barrage of almost 500 rockets from Gaza followed a botched spying mission by Israeli forces which left eight dead. Israel responded to the rockets with air strikes at more than 70 sites in Gaza. The violence was the worst in the region since the 50-day conflict in 2014.

In August 2014 then Minister for External Affairs Humza Yousaf condemned rocket attacks from Gaza but added that Israel’s response was “disproportionate”.

His assessment was based on the death toll in Gaza, where 2,251 people died, including 1,462 civilians. On the Israeli side, 67 soldiers and six civilians died.

Michael Oren MK (Member of the Knesset) said: “I understand the Scottish Government has taken a position on us which is probably the harshest of any political party in Europe. They vie with some of the Swedish parties and the Irish parties.

“But let me say about (Yousaf’s comments on) disproportionality. First of all, it is a gross misreading of international law. I studied international law. Disproportionality says very simply that an army can only use the force necessary to meet the threat. If we use a certain amount of force and rockets continue to fall on our territory then the force cannot be disproportionate, just cannot by definition.

“So, it’s a gross misreading and I would say a gratuitous misreading of disproportionality principles. We are in fact, if anything, under proportion in our use of force.

“Many other societies, most other societies, would use a reckless amount of force to stop rockets falling on civilians. We have not done that. We have the power, boy we have the power. We could end it very quickly.”

Human Rights organisation Amnesty issued a report on Israel earlier this year which accused the government of “collectively punishing Gaza’s entire population” with an air, land and sea blockade.

The blockade has triggered a humanitarian crisis with electricity cuts affecting clean water and sanitation and diminishing health service access. The blockade has rendered Gaza increasingly “unliveable”, according to the United Nations.

Oren said: “I know this is difficult but when you think about Gaza you have to throw out everything you know about everything in human affairs. I’ll give you examples. Hamas (the governing authority) wants to keep a low light on the humanitarian crisis there but it burnt down a crossing to Gaza three times. It burnt fuel lines to a population which is in any case only getting three hours a day of electricity.

“And by the way Hamas has 24/7 electricity in its tunnels and its bunkers and headquarters. No problems there with electricity, no problems with water.”

The Scottish Government said its position on the situation in Gaza “was and continues to be in line with much mainstream international opinion”.

A spokesman for the Scottish Government added: “More generally, we support international efforts to bring resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, based on working towards a two-state solution.”