Borough politicians - including two MPs - have spoken at a vigil in Bolton today, Saturday, calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.

Dozens gathered on the steps of the town hall to make fresh calls for an end to fighting in the war.

The death toll from the war in Gaza is more than 34,500 people, according to local health officials, and caused vast destruction to apartments, hospitals, mosques and schools across several cities.

The UN says northern Gaza is already in a state of “full-blown famine”.

Israeli forces have seized control of the Gazan side of the Rafah border crossing with Egypt, an important route for aid to reach the territory.

The war began on October 7 last year when Hamas attacked southern Israel, killing around 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and abducting about 250 others.

Today, protestors gathered in Bolton town centre and cries of “Gaza, Gaza don’t you cry, we will never let you die” and “one two three four, occupation no more, five six seven eight Israel is a terrorist state” rang out.

Mark Logan, the MP for Bolton North East, was among those in attendance.

He said: “I have called for a ceasefire and will do so again.

“Countries this week came together at the UN and made calls for Palestine to be a state.

“Palestine must take its place on the table of nations so it can have some of the protection of others.

“People of Bolton North East have lobbied for me to act on this, please continue to do that.

“Palestine must be recognised as a country.

“There must be a permanent ceasefire.”

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Yasmin Qureshi, MP for Bolton South, who left the shadow cabinet to vote for a ceasefire early on in the conflict, also addressed the march and spoke of her longstanding support for Palestine.

She said: “We should never have been put in this place.

“If the international community, over the years, had acted properly, and fairly towards the people of Palestine, we wouldn’t be in the position we are.

“Even before I became an MP 14 years I had been campaigning for Palestinians, for the people of Gaza, the West Bank. 

"My belief in fighting for the cause of Palestine isn’t just a few months ago or a few years ago it’s been there for more than 30 years.

“I was one of the first MPs, certainly one not in the Scottish National Party to call for a ceasefire.

"I called for it on October 23, two weeks after everything happened.

“Last week I said to the Prime Minister why don’t you ring Biden and tell him to stop this because with one phone call President Biden could stop this.”

Ms Qureshi said there were 17 labour councillors present.

Also in attendance were the newly elected green councillor Hanif Alli and independent Ayyub Patel, both of whom made the conflict a central part of their election pitch.

Cllr Patel said his constituency, Rumworth, had spoken.

He said: “They have sent a message that will go out locally, nationally and internationally.

“They want a ceasefire and they want an end to the genocide that is taking place in Palestine.”

Neil McAlister, the co-ordinator of Bolton for Palestine, welcomed the involvement of elected politicians.

He said: “We have got two MPs, 17 Labour councillors and the new councillors for Halliwell and Rumworth.

“We are seeing a breaking of the consensus that you can’t talk about what is happening in Gaza and you can’t criticise Israel.

“We are seeing this at universities across the world including in Manchester up the road.

“People are breaking free with the consensus.

“We need a permanent ceasefire, for Palestine to have its own state and for everybody to able to live in peace as they did before 1948.”

Earlier this week, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: “I’ve been clear that we are deeply concerned about the full military incursion of Rafah, given the humanitarian consequences of that.

“I’ve made that point specifically to Prime Minister (Benjamin) Netanyahu whenever I’ve spoken to him.”