The violence erupting in the Middle East will “continue for many years to come” unless an honest broker secures peace between Israel and Palestine, Humza Yousaf has said.

The First Minister, whose parents-in-law are trapped in southern Gaza, called for a ceasefire as a first step to halting the “perpetual cycle of violence” in the region.

He said the “root cause” was the fact that the two-state solution which was meant to see Israel and Palestine co-exist as sovereign states had “never materialised” for decades. 

Israel and Hamas have been as war for more than a week since terror attacks launched from Gaza killed more than 1000 Israelis and saw another 150 taken hostage.

Around 1million people in northern Gaza have been displaced to the south of the besieged strip in anticipation of an Israeli ground invasion.

Speaking to BBC Breakfast, Mr Yousaf said: “Stepping back from the current crisis, the only way we’re going to stop that perpetual cycle of violence that we see flare up year after year after year, is by addressing the root cause.

“The root cause continues to be that, while we have an Israeli state, that was a promise that was made, we don’t have the Palestinian state yet as per the 1967 borders.

“So that two-state solution that many of us have talked about for decades has just never materialised.

“Until there is a concerted effort, until – frankly – there is an honest broker that is able to help to broker that solution, we are going to unfortunately, I fear, see those perpetual cycles of violence continue for many years to come.”

Almost 500 people are reported to have been killed after an explosion at the al-Ahli Arab hospital in southern Gaza, where thousands of people were taking shelter.

Hamas blamed an Israeli airstrike, while Israel claimed an Islamic Jihad rocket misfired, falling short of its intended target in Israel.

Mr Yousaf called for an independent investigation into the “utter human tragedy”.

He said: “Everybody has a responsibility to condemn it and condemn it in the strongest possible way. It’s a complete breach of international law – the targeting of a hospital.

“There should be an independent investigation to find those who are responsible for it.”

Calling for a ceasefire, he added: “People are rightly outraged, in the region and right across the world, and (it is) just a complete an utter human tragedy.”

Speaking about the fears he and his wife Nadia El-Nakla have about the safety of her parents Elizabeth and Maged, who became stuck in Gaza while visiting relatives, he said: “We are just torn apart with worry as you can imagine, because their supplies are low. 

“Yesterday an Israeli missile hit a house across the road from my mother-in-law and father-in-law’s house and it shattered every window… broke all the mirrors and gave them a real fright. My mother-in-law told me she just didn’t sleep a wink last night with worry.”