Luton councillors write to Keir Starmer over Middle East crisis amid fears of 'rise in hate crime and violence on our streets'
Local Labour councillors fear an increase in hate crime and violence on Luton’s streets, if nothing is done to enforce a ceasefire in the current Middle East conflict.
A letter has been sent by the Labour group on the borough council to party leader Sir Keir Starmer calling for a proactive response to the conflict, despite not being in government.
It refers to rising tensions in the town and the difficulty restricting that, with innocent people dying on a daily basis and while humanitarian aid is withheld from civilians in Gaza.
The letter stated: “We stand with our communities united in solidarity against all forms of hate, violence and oppression.
“Luton is a proud, diverse and thriving town, which believes in equality, fairness and justice. Our residents are concerned about the current conflict in the Middle East, and the resulting loss of innocent lives.
“We utterly condemn the terrorist attacks committed by Hamas on October 7th, which claimed lives of innocent Israeli civilians and led to some being taken as hostages.
“While we recognise Israel has the right to defend itself against terrorist attacks, it must act proportionately and in line with international law.
“It’s this belief in international law which means we must also condemn the killing of innocent Palestinian civilians in Gaza via Israel Defence Forces (IDF) air strikes.
“The wilful restriction of humanitarian access and aid, including food, water and fuel, is against international law and we entirely condemn this.
“The deal struck to get a number of trucks through the Rafah Crossing is welcome, but it’s been nowhere near enough,” warned the letter. “Ongoing air strikes have created a humanitarian crisis, which is worsening by every passing day.
“More than 7,000 innocent civilians on both sides have been lost in the violence already, with it currently being reported that over 5,700 people have been killed in Gaza since the October 7th attacks.
“This includes 2,360 children, as well as 1,550 people reported missing, which is truly heart breaking and deeply upsetting. We urge the government and the international community to push for an immediate ceasefire.”
The letter asks Sir Keir to call for food, water, electricity and fuel in Gaza to be reinstated straight away and to demand the opening of evacuation corridors.
It also seeks to ensure the immediate release of all hostages, to establish a lasting peace in the region, and urges all parties to collaborate on achieving a two state solution.
The group added: “Events in the Middle East have increased tensions in our communities here in Luton and across the UK. While we’re trying to ease these tensions, it’s proving very difficult when innocent people are being killed on a daily basis and humanitarian aid is being restricted.
“We fear if nothing is done, there’ll be an increase in hate crime and violence on our streets. These points reflect the views and sentiments of our local communities, many of whom are ardent Labour supporters.
“Our communities want a strong Labour Party reflecting their perspectives and taking proactive measures, even outside of government, to foster meaningful change.”