23 October 2023

To Hastings Borough Council
Rother District Council
East Sussex County Council
Huw Merriman MP
Sally-Ann Hart MP

We would like to express our deep dismay in our local elected representatives for their failure to demand a ceasefire during 16 days of Israeli bombardment of Gaza.
In this time, we have watched as families, hospitals, places of worship and education, market places and whole neighbourhoods have been destroyed.
The banned substance white phosphorus was confirmed by both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch to have been used by the Israeli military against the people of Gaza. White phosphorus is an unlawful incendiary weapon that indiscriminately attacks civilians, causing excruciating burns and setting homes alight.
At the same time, Israel has imposed a 'total siege' on the 2.3 million people of Gaza, depriving them of water, food, electricity and fuel.
All of the above violate international law and constitute war crimes as defined by the Geneva Conventions.
Currently, just 20 out of 35 hospitals in Gaza are operational, 1 million Gazans are internally displaced and, without a ceasefire, there is no opportunity to give the dead dignified burials, rescue those trapped under the rubble or prevent disease outbreaks.
The number of Gazans killed by the relentless bombing campaign currently stands at 4651, including 1500 children and there are over 15,000 injured, mostly women and children.
Meanwhile, the language used by Israeli politicians, calling Palestinians 'human animals' and demanding their 'extermination' has sounded alarm bells across the world, prompting UN experts to warn that Palestinians are at risk of 'genocide.'

We have heard not one word from Hastings Borough Council, Rother District Council, Sally-Ann Hart MP or Huw Merriman MP urging a ceasefire, despite a YouGov poll last week which found that an overwhelming 76% of adults in the UK support an immediate ceasefire.
And, though they have received repeated invitations to speak publicly, to attend the many rallies and vigils we have held and to make statements, our elected representatives have not spoken out in the interests of peace and to bring an end to the indiscriminate slaughter.

It cannot have escaped their notice there has been an outpouring of despair and outrage amongst our local population at the relentless bombing campaign that has killed over 1,500 children. As well as rallies and vigils, on Friday 20 October a march through Hastings town centre organised by the Hastings Mosque drew hundreds of supporters.

Whatever their political views, our leaders are first and foremost representatives of the people who elect them and we are united in calling for a halt to the suffering, a halt to the unlawful collective punishment of the people in Gaza. We ask our representatives to support our call for Israel to abide by international law and to ensure:
1: An immediate ceasefire.
2: The urgent restoration of food, water, fuel and medical supplies and humanitarian aid.
3: The immediate protection of medical facilities and the reversal of orders to evacuate hospitals which the World Health Organisation has condemned as 'a death sentence.'
4: The facilitation of safe passage for casualties and critically ill individuals in need of medical treatment.
5: The opening of crossings for those seeking to evacuate and permitting the entry of medical and rescue teams.

Hastings has always prided itself on being a community of sanctuary and an inclusive community that supports peace and recognises the sanctity of human life.
We urge our leaders to rise to this moment and to recognise the profound despair that Israel's current campaign is provoking amongst the local population and the wider electorate.

This is the moment - will you join our calls for peace?


Hastings and Rye Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Hastings Mosque
The Refugee Buddy Project: Hastings, Rother and Wealden
Hastings Friends of Al-Mawasi
Amnesty International Hastings and Rye
Hastings and District Trades Union Council
Becca Horn, Green Party Parliamentary Candidate for Hastings and Rye
Hastings Community of Sanctuary
Hastings Supports Refugees
Walden Pond Housing Co-operative
Gensing Workers' Coop
Hastings NEU District Committee
Hastings Socialist Workers Party
Charmian Kenner, Matt McDonnell, Jane Ripley, Rob Ralph & Teresa Thornhill of Hastings & St Leonard's Extinction Rebellion
Bishop Laurie Green, Past president of the Southend Council of Christians and Jews
Rev Luke Dean (Vicar St John's Hollington)
Revd. Kizzy Penfold, Curate, St Helen's Ore with St Barnabas & Christ Church Ore.

If your local organisation, community group or business community wish to sign on to the letter, please email Hastings and Rye PSC.