Like many of you, I have been horrified by the brutal and deadly attacks on Israeli civilians, as well as by the numbers of people injured. I condemn Hamas for their acts of unimaginable terror, including the taking of hostages.
This latest escalation in the long running conflict between Israel and Palestine is devastating, and my thoughts are with all those who have lost loved ones and are currently experiencing trauma and fear.
Peace and justice are the priority for the vast majority of civilians in the region and I will continue to do my utmost to keep up pressure for these outcomes. I echo the unequivocal message from the United Nations: the laws of war must be upheld and the violence must stop.
I am concerned about the impact in our local community too, and have reached out to Jewish leaders and the city’s synagogues at this time of such grief, anxiety and insecurity. There must be no place in our city and in our country for the scourge of antisemitism and I am doing all I can to continue to support interfaith dialogue and understanding.
The UK government must do everything to ensure humanitarian aid reaches those who need it; to renew peace talks; and to push for an end to the occupation of Palestine and for a fair and lasting two state solution.
Accountability is difficult but critical if we are to end the cycle of violence. Hamas, who I call on to immediately release all civilians and to treat any captives humanely, must be held fully to account for all atrocities committed. The Israeli authorities must be accountable for their actions too, including as an occupying power. They have a responsibility to uphold international law whilst exerting their right to self-defence. As the UN has said, cutting off food, power and water for the 2.3 million civilians in Gaza, around half of them under the age of 15, is an act of collective punishment.
I call on everyone in our city to help prevent this horrific situation from dividing us. Feelings are running high and we all have a responsibility to choose our words carefully, and to use our voices to advocate for peace, justice and compassion.
If anyone needs support, especially consular support for friends or family who are UK citizens and are in Israel or Gaza, please do contact my constituency office: email@example.com