More than 2,800 Labour supporters and voters from Swindon have signed a petition calling on the national party’s leader Keir Starmer to call for Israel to cease its military operations against Gaza.

Included in the names is the Labour councillor for Frenbrook and Lydiard, Councillor Repi Begum.

The leader of the opposition has resisted calls thus far, saying he believed Israel had the right to defend itself against Hamas which carried out appalling atrocities on Israeli civilians on October 7.

But many believe that the response of the Israeli government, shelling and bombing large areas of Gaza is disproportionate and is also targeting civilians.

The petition started online at by Noshi Azhar says: “We have been Labour supporters and voters for the majority if not all our adult lives, some of us turned Labour due to our dismay in politics of late and thought under you we may do better.

“Some of us are members of the party, others councillors, and others voters. Some of us are  from the Muslim community, some of us are of other faiths and some of us are of no faith, but the thread between us is that of humanity, we call on you for the sake of humanity!”

The text comments on the responses of Labour councillors and parliamentary candidates: “Your local councillors and even MP candidates in Swindon have shown some sympathy towards Palestinians, though they echo your line of “I stand with Israel’s right to defend”.

“Undoubtedly, any country under attack has a right to defend, but this is not defence, this is pure bloodshed and nothing short of genocide.  Over 7,000 Palestinians have been killed since 7th October 2023, 50 per cent of those killed are children.

“We simply cannot keep turning our backs on this matter and say “its a complex matter.” It will be complex to resolve the decades of conflict, but we must try. The issue itself is not complex.  The resolution on the other hand will need much negotiation and much courage to seek truth and seek justice

“We demand that you encourage peace talks that would see to the end of the siege which would allow Palestinians to have their own autonomy, land and sea without any occupier military checkpoints

“This must be a fair negotiation that looks to uphold UN resolutions including those regarding Israeli withdrawal from illegal settlements.

 “But that is a long way off - for now call for a ceasefire and allow in much-needed aid. Turn back on the flow of water, electricity and fuel.”