Humza Yousaf has said he is praying for his brother-in-law who is trapped in Palestine as it comes under aerial bombardment from Israeli forces firing in response to rockets from Islamic militants. 

Mr Yousaf posted on social media that his wife, Nadia El-Nakla, has been in "floods of tears" overnight after being contacted by her brother to say it was "raining rockets" on the area where he lives in the Gaza Strip with his spouse and three children. 

The SNP cabinet member Tweeted that the family cannot leave because of the blockade, and that all he and his wife could do is "is pray & hope they are alive in the morning."

His message comes as Boris Johnson appealed to leaders in Israel and Palestine to “step back from the brink” as violence intensified, saying the UK is alarmed at the mounting toll of civilian casualties.

READ MORE: Escalating violence in Middle East worst since 2014 war

Rockets were fired from Gaza while Israeli forces bombarded the territory with air strikes in the most serious fighting since the 50-day war in 2014.

Mr Yousaf later thanked other social media users who had got in touch, and also called on the international community to intervene. 

HeraldScotland:

Humza Yousaf and wife Nadia, inset. 

He posted: "Wife has been in floods of tears all evening. Her brother lives in Gaza with his wife & three young children. He tells us it's raining rockets.

"As a parent he feels helpless, they cannot leave as they are under blockade. All we can do is pray & hope they are alive in the morning."

The Justice Secretary later added: "Thank you to everyone for their kind msgs about my brother-in-law in Gaza.

"I have passed your kindness, and prayers to my wife and her brother who are taking great comfort in them.

"I hope the international community intervenes & actually tackles the root of this conflict."

The death toll in Gaza has risen to 35 Palestinians, including 12 children and three women, according to the health ministry, with some 233 people injured.

Rockets were fired from Gaza while Israeli forces bombarded the territory with air strikes in the most serious fighting since the 50-day war in 2014.

READ MORE: Israeli air strikes hit Hamas commander's home 

Hamas and other militant groups in Gaza have fired hundreds of rockets at Tel Aviv and other cities.

Israel has responded with air strikes targeting police and security installations, although the Palestinian authorities said there have been civilian casualties.

A focal point was the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, a holy site sacred to both Jews and Muslims, while there were also clashes over the threatened eviction of dozens of Palestinian families by Jewish settlers in the Sheikh Jarrar neighbourhood of east Jerusalem.

Five Israelis, including three women and a child, were killed by rocket fire on Tuesday and early on Wednesday, and dozens of other people were injured.

Israel PalestiniansThe remains of a building destroyed by Israeli air strikes on Gaza City (Khalil Hamra/AP)

Boris Johnson said: “I am urging Israel and the Palestinians to step back from the brink and for both sides to show restraint.

“The UK is deeply concerned by the growing violence and civilian casualties and we want to see an urgent de-escalation of tensions.”The latest upsurge in violence has been triggered by tensions in Jerusalem during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.