Israel-Gaza: Preston councillors to vote on motion condemning violence in Middle East

Councillors in Preston will vote today (Thursday) on a strongly-worded motion opposing the Israel-Gaza conflict.

Thursday, 20th May 2021, 4:55 am

The motion is highly critical of the Israeli military’s actions in the Gaza Strip.

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It also notes a joint statement from 17 city mosques and Islamic institutions condemning an Israeli police operation at the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem's Old City during which officers fired rubber bullets as Palestinians threw stones and bottles.

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A Palestinian citizen surveys the rubble of a building in the aftermath of an Israeli air force strike

“It is unacceptable that they (places of worship) become a place of violent conflict, disorder and bloodshed,” the statement added.

The council’s emergency motion added that: “The statement was made in response to the Israeli military storming the Al Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem and brutally attacking people who were praying on one of the holiest nights of Ramadan, in one of the holiest sites in Islam.

“The Israeli military’s use of tear gas, rubber bullets, and stun grenades injured around 200 worshippers. The statement has received widespread support from residents across Preston

Israeli citizens shelter from a Hamas rocket lauch

The motion also highlights Palestinian citizens being stopped from praying at their mosque and also says that “in response to the provocations, Hamas has fired indiscriminate rockets into Israel, forcing Israeli residents to seek shelter”.

Hamas is the de facto governing authority in Gaza since defeating rivals Fatah in a 2007 military conflict. It is considered by many countries, including the UK, to be a terrorist organisation.

“As of Monday 17 May, in the besieged Gaza Strip, 212 people have been killed, including 61 children and 36 women. In Israel, eight people have been killed including a child and a soldier,” the motion continues.

“This is the most intense exchange of fire since the 2014 Gaza war which killed 2,251 Palestinians, and 67 Israeli soldiers and 6 civilians.

The motion has been proposed by Labour councillor Pav Akhtar

“Preston is a City of sanctuary for asylum seekers and refugees displaced by war. The City counts people of Palestinian heritage among its residents who, along with other people of faith and not, have been distressed by the scenes of violence and desecration of places of worship.”

The motion, proposed by Plungington councillor Pav Akhtar, also states that Israel has rejected a truce proposal.

“There can be no justification for this level of violence against residential areas or the media,” the motion adds..

“Nor is the loss of any innocent civilian life acceptable at any time. Without intense diplomatic efforts to secure a ceasefire it is feared that the situation will spiral further out of control.”

The motion calls for solidarity with the Palestinian people and support for Israeli citizens to “live free from threat of rocket attack by Hamas”.

It also calls for the MPs to write to the Prime Minister urging him to demand an immediate end to Israeli bombings and rocket attacks from both sides, and urges the council to”confirm the right of citizens in Preston to boycott goods and service made by companies that profit from illegal settlements in the Israeli occupied Palestinian Territories”.