Councillors voted to call for an “immediate ceasefire” in Gaza at a full council meeting this week.

Protesters had gathered outside town hall on Wednesday evening ahead of a gathering of councillors who were set to discuss several key issues.

Halliwell Cllr Kevin Morris raised the issue of Gaza as a series of questions were put to the council leadership and cited the effect the conflict had had on people in his area.

Cllr Morris said: “This horrendous and disastrous humanitarian crisis, which we are all hearing about daily, is causing great upset and distress to so many people in our town including to my residents in Halliwell.

“And I know that myself and my ward colleagues Cllr Jiva and Cllr Patel are being inundated with calls and messages from worried and anxious residents on the awful and heartbreaking situation in Gaza.”

The Bolton News: The town has already seen thousands of people attend Bolton4Palestine ralliesThe town has already seen thousands of people attend Bolton4Palestine rallies (Image: Henry Lisowski)

To loud applause from the public gallery, Cllr Morris asked Cllr Peel to repeat a statement he had signed with other council leaders across Greater Manchester and confirm a “zero tolerance policy” towards Islamophobia and anti-Semitism.

The devastating conflict in Gaza and southern Israel has sent shockwaves across the borough in recent weeks, with the group Bolton4Palestine having organised several large scale protests in the town centre.

This was followed by a silent vigil held in early November by grandmothers Bernadette Gallagher and Florence Hill in memory of the children killed in the conflict.

Five councillors, including two cabinet members, had already signed a letter circulated by the Muslim Labour Network demanding that Labour leader Keir Starmer back a ceasefire.

Just weeks later Bolton South East MP Yasmin Qureshi had resigned from the frontbench to vote for an amendment backing a ceasefire in this year’s King’s Speech.

Ahead of the meeting on Wednesday November 29 a large crowd of protesters had gathered outside the town hall carrying Palestinian flags and chanting slogans in support of the embattled people of Gaza.

Bolton Trades Council secretary Kev Allsop was one of the protesters that evening.

He said: “People in Gaza may not be aware of this vote, but people in Bolton are and we want to show that supporting the people of Palestine is all about solidarity."

Cllr Peel had proposed a motion that the council back a statement he had previously signed along with the other nine Greater Manchester council leaders with Mayor Andy Burnham.

Along with condemning the attacks carried out on Israeli civilians by Hamas, the statement called for an end to the fighting and the release of hostages.

It said: “We also have profound concerns about the loss of thousands of innocent lives in Gaza, the displacement of many more and widespread suffering through the ongoing blockade of essential goods and services.

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“It is vital that urgent support and humanitarian aid is allowed into the area.

“Given the humanitarian disaster unfolding in Gaza, the mayor, deputy mayor and the 10 leaders of Greater Manchester join the growing international calls for a ceasefire by all sides and for the hostages to be released unharmed.”

In response to Cllr Morris’s points, Cllr Peel referred to the peace vigil held by party leaders on November 14 and said that while “our first duty will always be to protect our local people in Bolton" he also wished to "pray for an end to reckless hatred and man's inhumanity towards each other."

The motion was put to the council towards the end of the meeting and was passed again to loud applause from the public gallery.