AT midnight on Thursday, the Israeli Defence Force told the entire population of the northern half of Gaza to evacuate within 24 hours ("Yousaf mother-in-law's plea ahead of 'impossible' Gaza evacuation", heraldscotland, October 13). That area includes Gaza City and is home to more than a million people. The order would be laughable if it weren’t so deadly serious.

Where are those million people supposed to go? Gaza is very densely populated and there’s no way half the population can squeeze into the southern part of the country. And the Israeli blockade has ensured there is no electricity, no light: so how do infants, pregnant women, the elderly, wheelchair users, hospital patients in their beds; how do they make the journey in one day through streets already blocked by the rubble of Israeli air strikes?

A UN spokesman said: “The United Nations considers it impossible for such movement to take place without devastating humanitarian consequences.” I understand Israel’s desire for revenge, but how many dead Palestinian civilians do there have to be to assuage their rage? 15,000? 150,000? A million? They should heed the old saying: “He who seeks revenge must dig two graves.” Israel can flatten Gaza and decimate its population, but they will sow the seeds of a terrible future for the whole Middle East, itself included.

Doug Maughan, Dunblane.

Read more: Andy Maciver: Scotland has failed this week's big test on Israel

Sanitising the oppressor

SOMETIMES an argument can be framed in such a way that the elisions, omissions and downright hyperbole can be missed. Not so with Andy Maciver ("Why Scotland has failed this week’s big test on Israel", The Herald October 13). He, at least, makes it easy to see where the bricks don't meet.

Take his description of Israel as “a free country trapped between the sea on one side and a range of bad actors on the other”. They are “trapped”? Surely Israel was born out of a wilful act of invasion, dispossession and violence. They must have trapped themselves then.

He shows naivete by ascribing to talks between Saudi Arabia and Israel a relationship to peace they do not have, at least not one relevant to the Palestinians. Surely he must know the Saudis have been staunch allies of the West for some time. Their “peace” would not improve the lives of Palestinians one jot.

Then comes the truly egregious. He states that the Hamas attack a few days ago was “the most unthinkable, unspeakable atrocity that many of us have seen in our lives”. Amazing. This can only be true for those not paying attention or those reluctant to open a book. What about the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan? What about all those bodies eviscerated by western bombs and bullets? What about the dead of Gaza; but we are not meant to mention them, are we? Mr Maciver doesn’t. No surprise though. Some Ukranians might have doubts though.

War has its own dynamic and it is brutal. But the narrative usually goes like this. When the oppressor (the ones with the bigger and better weapons who are usually white) goes on the attack they wear labels of a sanitising nature. Their actions are reprisals, legitimate war aims and the like. The results are bloody. This morphs into accidents, collateral damage. Essentially awful but essentially benign.

Mr Maciver obscures causal relations. History is to be ignored so that the most recent act of violence becomes the primal source of all subsequent violence. Even he must know this is nonsense. The oppressed have always and should always resist because they are subject to the unlimited power of the oppressor. They are not in a situation where they can do otherwise. History 101.

Alex Porter, Stirling.

• A SIMPLE question: why do the UK and USA have such different responses to the Russian slaughter of civilians in Mariupol and the Israeli slaughter of civilians in Gaza (1,500 in the last 48 hours and no doubt more to come) ?

John Gosling, Oban.

Flag decision was sensible

WE can surely all agree that Hamas is an entirely loathsome terrorist outfit, godless and removed from all human decency, and whose external leadership can and should be arrested and tried with crimes against humanity. If, as suggested by Andy Maciver, Scotland had flown the flag of Israel at Holyrood, how long would it have been before the (already high) casualty rate of civilian deaths in Gaza would have necessitated bringing it down?

I would suggest flying the flags of Israel and Palestine alongside each other to show our sympathy for the deaths of entirely innocent people on both sides. There are already serious breaches of the rules of war in Gaza in the short term, with (disgracefully) no long-term solutions for Palestinians proposed by the international community.

GR Weir, Ochiltree.

What if this were in the UK?

I PREFACE my comments by saying I do not condone in any way the recent actions of Hamas but I can understand how the situation has come about. Neither can I condone Israel carpet-bombing Gaza and its citizens contrary to the accepted laws of military engagement.

Andy Maciver castigates Scotland for “failing this week’s big test on Israel” by not flying the Israeli flag. He doesn’t mention that we were not and have not been flying the Palestinian flag so one can only assume that if it’s a matter of taking sides in this long-standing conflict he has chosen to side with Israel.

I ask him this: what would he do if a century ago the Zionists had accepted the offer of a homeland in Essex rather than Palestine or Uganda, as was originally suggested by Balfour? What if they had settled for Essex and things had progressed here in the UK as they have done in Palestine? What if the apartheid policies of the Israeli government had been applied in the UK and the indigenous British population had been robbed of their homes and property and were now crammed into a wee bit of Wales and the Outer Hebrides? Whose flag would he be flying then? Would he accept that God said it was OK?

David J Crawford, Glasgow.

Read more: Palestinians will continue to suffer under the rule of Hamas

Hamas does not want peace

NO-ONE wants to see innocent civilians killed in Gaza but the question must be asked: why did Hamas start this in the first place? Trotting out the usual excuses of Gaza as a prison and so on is not entirely correct. It has been made a prison by Hamas. Why have there been no elections there for so many years? Why have enormous amounts of money been spent on tunnels and advanced weaponry rather than easing the plight of the Gazans?

Hamas does not want peace and stability otherwise it would not have gone out of its way to make the attack on Israel as horrific as possible. And why are the Egyptians reluctant to open their crossing point? Some eyes need to be opened about Gaza.

Dr Gerald Edwards, Glasgow.

Follow the money

MAGGIE Chetty (Letters, October 12) makes reasonable points on the tragedy unfolding in Israel and Gaza. Too many people have jumped in feet first and have taken one side or the other. If two of their neighbours were to start fighting each other in the street would they go out and join in on one side? Or would they try to calm the situation? Seventy-five years of taking sides since 1948 hasn't solved anything.

Perhaps the people taking sides should pause and think. One of the first things I do when a geopolitical crisis arises is to check share prices. Shares in the US arms manufacturer Lockheed Martin rose from $400 to $433, and those of BAe Systems soared from £980 to a record £1,077, all within a couple of days of the Hamas attacks.

Imagine if there was profit in peace.

Geoff Moore, Alness.

The Herald: Lisa Cameron celebrates after winning her seat for the SNP in 2015. Now she’s a Conservative.Lisa Cameron celebrates after winning her seat for the SNP in 2015. Now she’s a Conservative. (Image: Newsquest)

No free thinkers allowed in SNP

A POLITICAL leader faced with claims of bullying amongst his Westminster team from a defecting MP might have thought to show care in his use of language to demonstrate that he at least had more sensitivity to people’s feelings. But not so with Humza Yousaf regarding Lisa Cameron and her departure from the SNP ("FM’S call for unity after SNP MP defects to Conservatives", The Herald, October 13).

He chose instead to throw one of the worst possible insults that he could come up with in the circumstances by saying that “she probably never believed in the cause [of independence] in the first place”. With these words our First Minister not only proved Lisa Cameron’s point, but also sent a clear message to anyone considering supporting the SNP. If you give the SNP your vote you are expected to give up freedom of thought. You must follow the party line on all matters without exception and you must not change your mind even when real-world reality proves you should do so.

Joanna Cherry, Fergus Ewing, Kate Forbes and many others in the SNP have shown that Lisa Cameron is not alone in feeling the ire of the SNP leadership that prefers supporters to back them and the “cause” without question or reflection. The SNP might still dominate Scottish politics and discourse but for some time now it has been for all the wrong reasons.

Keith Howell, West Linton.

Cameron is just like Johnson

IT seems to me that Lisa Cameron is an opportunistic politician who took advantage of the widespread popularity of the SNP to further her own ambitions. Perhaps she joined the SNP because it was the "in" crowd. Certainly, she was promptly elected to Westminster on the back of an all-conquering party, and has enjoyed the perks ever since.

About to be deselected by the SNP members of her constituency, she will do the Conservative Party few favours in the coming election. But perhaps she is keen to join the upper echelons of politics and take a seat beside Ruth Davidson. Like the Vicar of Bray, Dr Cameron will be able to preach on both sides of the independence debate.

It reminds me of Boris Johnson and his two prepared speeches for and against leaving the EU. The only motivation was personal ambition.

Frances Scott, Edinburgh.

Double standards on by-elections

SNP politicians and their supporters are demanding a by-election in the constituency of Lisa Cameron, who left them to join the Conservatives. Did they demand by-elections when Kenny MacAskill and Neale Hanvey defected to Alba? Or is that different because they left one nationalist party to join another?

Ian Balloch, Grangemouth.