The Israeli ambassador to the United Kingdom has been given a “very strong” message by the Scottish Government that the Israeli blockade of Gaza must end.

On his trip north of the border on Thursday, Mark Regev met Fiona Hyslop, the Scottish Cabinet Secretary for External Affairs, who expressed horror at the “injustices and hardship” suffered by Palestinians in Gaza.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said her Government pressed the case, in response to a question in the Scottish Parliament from Labour Party politician Anas Sarwar.

He urged Sturgeon to “deliver a very loud and clear message that, after 50 years of Palestinian oppression, the illegal occupation of the West Bank, the illegal expansion of settlements and the illegal siege of Gaza must end”.

He added that the free access of food, medicines and supplies into the Gaza strip must be allowed, saying: “The ambassador must understand that without justice, equality and freedom, there can never be peace.”

Sturgeon said Hyslop would deliver “a very strong message on justice for Palestine and for Palestinians covering the very issues raised”.

She said: “This Government has been very clear on our support for people in Gaza and on the range of injustices and hardships that they suffer and have suffered many times. I have led a debate in this chamber about Gaza. Ultimately, of course, we remain committed to the two-state solution in Palestine.”

In his address to the Scottish Parliament, for Israel’s 69th year of independence, he spoke about the upcoming centenary celebration of the Balfour Declaration, and reminded parliamentarians that Lord Balfour was himself “a Scot, a Conservative, and a passionate Zionist,” said Regev.

The ambassador also paid tribute to “towering figures” in the Scottish trade union movement as well as Winne Ewing, the Scottish nationalist who “spoke passionately about her attachment to Israel, amazed how the Jewish people beat the odds”.

Among his other meetings in Scotland, Regev spoke to Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale and Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davison, who said they discussed security, higher education and trade.