Three councillors sign fresh letter pressing Labour to call for Israel-Hamas ceasefire

Councillors Shabhana Dhedhi, Gerry Lyons, and Tom Connor signed a letter that pushes Labour leader Keir Starmer to back a ceasefire

By Marco Marcelline

Photo by Huzaifah Patel on Unsplash

Three Waltham Forest Labour councillors are among 330 councillors across the country who have signed a letter that presses the Labour leadership to back an immediate ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war.

The letter, signed by councillors Shabhana Dhedhi, Gerry Lyons, and Tom Connor, also calls on Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer to call for “an end to Israel’s complete siege of Gaza” and describes actions by Israel in Gaza as having “broken the limits of international law”.

Two-thirds of the letter’s signatories are reportedly not Muslim. Last week, a letter from over 250 Muslim Labour councillors calling on the party to back a ceasefire was signed by council deputy leader Ahsan Khan and Cllr Dhedhi.

In a speech this week aimed at quelling growing tension in the party over his response to the war, Sir Keir pushed for a “humanitarian pause” in the fighting so that aid supplies can reach Gazans. He doubled down on his opposition to a ceasefire by explaining that it would “leave Hamas with the infrastructure and the capability to carry out the sort of attack we saw on October the 7th”.

The letter reads: “As members of the Labour Party, we are committed to eradicating oppression, and speaking out against injustice and violence. To this end we unequivocally condemn all acts of violence against civilians.

“As community leaders we are proactively supporting our residents by speaking to faith and community groups and working to protect our communities who are facing rising hate crime and racially motivated violence. The intensified human catastrophe in Gaza impacts us all, and the Labour Party’s failure to call for an end to violence is causing hurt in our communities.

“As the UN CEIRPP [Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People] Bureau has stated, the current escalation by Israel in Gaza “has already broken the limits of international law and is providing ample evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity”. We cannot stay silent while even the sick and dying who are accessing urgent care in hospitals are not safe.

“As Labour councillors across the country, we are calling on the Labour Party leadership to fulfil their duties under international law – to ensure the protection of an occupied people and to demand an immediate ceasefire, an end to Israel’s complete siege of Gaza and for the protection of all civilians.”

Cllr Dhedhi, Cllr Lyons, and Cllr Connor did not respond to requests for comment. On X, formerly Twitter, Cllr Dhedhi yesterday voiced her support for a ceasefire and posted a stream of hashtags including “#FreePalestine” and “#GazaGenocide”.

The death toll in Gaza numbers 9,061 people, including 3,760 children. Israel’s bombing campaign is in response to Hamas militants taking 245 hostages and killing 1,432 Israelis in a surprise attack on October 7th. This week, an Israeli bombardment on a refugee camp in northern Gaza claimed the lives of 195 civilians.

Waltham Forest Labour referred the Echo to the statement it made in response to Cllr Dhedhi and Cllr Khan signing the Labour Muslim Network ceasefire letter last week.

At the time Waltham Forest Labour had said: “We urge the Government to do everything it can to put an end to the immediate violence in Israel and Gaza – to ensure that hostages are returned home safety, to restore humanitarian access to Gaza and to uphold international law.

“Waltham Forest has a proud history of standing together against hate and in times of crisis. All of our Labour councillors are focused on serving our community and working to ensure everyone feels safe and supported.”