High-profile MP Jess Phillips was among 10 frontbenchers to quit or be sacked from their role as Keir Starmer faced a mass rebellion over his refusal to back a ceasefire in Gaza.
Yasmin Qureshi, Afzal Khan and Paula Barker resigned on Wednesday evening in order to vote for an SNP amendment to the King’s Speech backing a ceasefire.
MPs voted 293 to 125, majority 168, to reject the SNP’s King’s Speech amendment calling for “all parties to agree to an immediate ceasefire” in Gaza. A total of 56 Labour MPs voted for the amendment.
The Israeli military said it had killed several militants at the outset of the raid, and claimed they had been confronted by “explosive devices and terrorist squads”.
Gunfire and explosions were heard inside the hospital complex, which had been surrounded by Israeli forces in recent days but continued to operate with hundreds of patients and medical personnel still inside.
Israel accuses Hamas of using hospitals as cover for its fighters, alleging that Hamas has set up its main command centre in and beneath Al Shifa hospital. Both Hamas and hospital staff deny the Israeli allegations.
Starmer hit by frontbench resignations
Israeli forces raid Gaza’s largest hospital in ‘targeted operation’
Big explosions heard from inside Al Shifa Hospital
Israel accuses Hamas of operating underneath hospital
White House says Hamas using hospitals for military operations but condemns fighting
Cooper warns against ‘spiral of disrespect’ between ministers and police
11:00 , Tara Cobham
Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper has said “a spiral of disrespect” cannot be allowed to develop between the Government and the police, following intense political pressure over protest marches.
Mrs Braverman took the extraordinary step of writing an article for the Times, accusing the force of showing bias in favour of left-wing protesters.
Margaret Davis reports:
Shadow science secretary defends stance taken by Starmer
10:40 , Tara Cobham
Shadow science secretary Peter Kyle defended the stance taken by Sir Keir Starmer, after several frontbenchers lost their jobs after backing the SNP amendment calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.
“It’s an issue of Labour policy. And actually, just because it’s an international policy doesn’t mean that it’s not a policy that we should stick together on as a team.”
He said that it was “not acceptable” to back the SNP amendment.
“We have a coherent policy. Keir is leading it and it’s in step with our G7 partners. And that’s what we need to do because to have any influence in this area we’ve got to stick together as an international community.”
Jess Phillips’ resignation letter in full
10:24 , Tara Cobham
Yousaf angry with MPs over ‘unforgivable’ Gaza ceasefire decision
09:45 , Tara Cobham
Scotland’s first minister Humza Yousaf has said he is “beyond angry” with MPs who refused to back an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and warned they were “on the wrong side of history”.
SNP leader Mr Yousaf, who was recently reunited with his Palestinian in-laws after they returned to the UK from the warzone in Gaza, said the vote was a chance to “put humanity before politics”.
He said one child has been killed every 10 minutes in Gaza, a statistic sourced from the World Health Organisation.
Sarah Ward reports:
Healey says rebels still want to see Starmer become PM
09:25 , Tara Cobham
Shadow defence secretary John Healey said Labour frontbenchers who broke ranks to call for a ceasefire in Gaza still want to see Sir Keir Starmer become prime minister.
Mr Healey told TimesRadio: “I regret losing any of our frontbenchers. I know they all wrestled with this difficult decision and I know they all have said that they 100% want Keir Starmer in Downing Street and will work together to secure a Labour government.
“This is a difficult issue that we faced last night but Keir Starmer was right, when it comes to a parliamentary vote, to be firm to require collective responsibility and discipline.
“He was not going to change his principal position for the sake of internal party management, which we’ve seen time and time again with Rishi Sunak trying to control his own Conservative MPs.”
What is Labour vote on Gaza ceasefire and why is it important?
09:00 , Tara Cobham
The House of Commons is voting on the King’s Speech on Wednesday, which was delivered by His Majesty King Charles III last week and laid out the legislative agenda the Conservative government plans to pursue during the present parliamentary session.
MPs are entitled to put forward their own amendments to the programme if they believe particular aspects of it do not sufficiently address their concerns.
If approved by the House speaker, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, these motions are then debated and voted on by the members.
Joe Sommerlad reports:
Met Police condemns climbing on war memorial as ‘unacceptable'
08:56 , Tara Cobham
The Metropolitan Police said it “regrets officers were not able to respond quickly enough to stop” pro-Palestinian protesters from climbing on the Royal Artillery Memorial at Hyde Park Corner in central London on Wednesday evening.
In a statement posted on social media, the force condemned the actions of the breakaway group, following a demonstration outside the Houses of Parliament, as “unacceptable”.
However, it added that because climbing on war memorials is not explicitly illegal, no arrests were made.
On Thursday morning, Home Secretary James Cleverly suggested laws could be changed to give police powers to prevent protesters clambering over war memorials.
This evening, pro-Palestinian protestors were able to climb on the Royal Artillery Memorial at Hyde Park Corner.
We regret that officers were not able to respond quickly enough to stop it happening.
Below is our statement. pic.twitter.com/6RORNCVW9p
— Metropolitan Police (@metpoliceuk) November 15, 2023
Israeli military says it strikes house of Hamas leader in Gaza
08:49 , Tara Cobham
Israeli fighter jets have struck the house of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza, the Israeli military said on Thursday.
Haniyeh's house was "used as terrorist infrastructure and often served as a meeting point for Hamas' senior leaders to direct terror attacks against Israeli civilians and IDF (Israel Defence Forces) soldiers," the military said.
Cleverly suggests change in protest laws to prevent climbing on memorials
08:45 , Tara Cobham
Home Secretary James Cleverly suggested laws could be changed to give police powers to prevent protesters clambering over war memorials.
Pro-Palestinian protesters climbed on the Royal Artillery Memorial at Hyde Park Corner in central London after a demonstration outside the Houses of Parliament on Wednesday evening.
Mr Cleverly, who served in the Royal Artillery, told LBC Radio: “We’re going to look at this.
“We are absolutely determined to look at this. (Veterans minister) Johnny Mercer, a former gunner officer – the Royal Artillery was my regiment as well, that’s my regimental memorial.”
The Home Secretary added: “I’m not going to let my personal feelings cloud my judgment on this but it is clearly wrong, and the police have said that they recognise it is deeply disrespectful for people to climb on war memorials.
“We have made a commitment to review the legislation around public order policing.
“If the police – and I’m going to look at this in real detail – if the police need more powers to make sure that really deeply distasteful, provocative things like that do not happen for the public good, because of course this is about making sure it doesn’t stimulate violent action or any kind of violent responses, but if we need to take action specifically to give police more powers, we are looking at doing that.”
Who are the 10 frontbench Labour resignations
08:32 , Tara Cobham
A total of 56 Labour MPs voted for an SNP amendment to the King’s speech backing a ceasefire in Gaza, the biggest rebellion Keir Starmer has faced as leader.
Jess Phillips, the shadow minister for domestic violence and safeguarding, was among 10 frontbenchers who defied the leader’s order not to vote for the amendment, resigning from Sir Keir’s top team.
The 10 frontbench resignations are as follows:
Paula Barker, Shadow Minister for devolution and the English Regions
Rachel Hopkins, Shadow Minister for Veterans
Afzal Khan, Shadow Minister for Legal Aid of the United Kingdom
Sarah Owen, Shadow Minister for Local Government and Faith
Jess Phillips, Shadow Minister for Domestic Violence and Safeguarding
Yasmin Qureshi, Shadow Minister for International Development
Naz Shah, Shadow Minister for Crime Reduction
Andy Slaughter, Shadow Solicitor General
Dan Carden, Parliamentary Private Secretary
Mary Foy, Parliamentary Private Secretary
Israel signals wider operations in southern Gaza
08:03 , Tara Cobham
Israeli forces dropped leaflets warning Palestinians to flee parts of southern Gaza, residents said Thursday, signaling a possible expansion of operations to areas where hundreds of thousands of people who heeded earlier evacuation orders are crowded into UN-run shelters and family homes.
Meanwhile, soldiers continued searching Shifa Hospital in the north, in a raid that began early Wednesday but has yet to uncover evidence of the central Hamas command center that Israel has said is concealed beneath the complex. Hamas and staff at the hospital, Gaza's largest, deny the allegations.
Broadening the offensive to the south — where Israel already carries out daily air raids — threatens to worsen an already severe humanitarian crisis in the besieged territory. Over 1.5 million people have been internally displaced in Gaza, with most having fled to the south, where food, water and electricity are increasingly scarce.
More than 11,200 Palestinians have been killed, two-thirds of them women and minors, according to Palestinian health authorities. Another 2,700 have been reported missing, with most believed to be buried under the rubble. The official count does not differentiate between civilian and militant deaths.
Healey insists there’s ‘deeper unity' in Labour despite mass rebellion
07:54 , Tara Cobham
Shadow defence secretary John Healey said there is a “deeper unity” in the Labour Party despite frontbenchers defying Sir Keir Starmer to back a Commons vote calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.
Mr Healey told BBC Breakfast: “I do understand why backbench MPs want to be able to respond to their constituents and call for an immediate ceasefire.
“Now we all want to see an end to the killing and relief for the Palestinian suffering, but the vast majority of Labour MPs backed the most practical step which is the work that we’re doing and the calls we’re making alongside international allies for a humanitarian pause that allows us to get more aid in, get more hostages out and build the confidence to see further diplomacy in the future.
He added: “On the front benches a small number had to resign while the vast majority backed humanitarian pauses – the best way in these circumstances now trying to relieve the suffering – but the deeper unity of the Labour Party was clear last month.
“At the Labour Party conference you saw us totally unified and determined in solidarity with Ukraine, behind a plan to help people with the cost of living and in getting rid of an infighting, failing 13 years of Conservative Government.”
Biden says he is ‘mildly hopeful’ for Gaza hostages
07:49 , Tara Cobham
The American president said he discussed with Israelis their need to “be incredibly careful” as they worked to clear the hospital.
“I have been deeply involved in the movement of the hostage negotiations and I don’t want to get ahead of myself here because I don’t know what’s happened in the last four hours, but we have gotten great cooperation from the Qataris,” he said.
Shweta Sharma reports:
Biden says he made clear to Israel occupying Gaza is ‘big mistake’
07:48 , Tara Cobham
“I made it clear to Israel that I think it’s a big mistake to for them to occupy Gaza,” he said while speaking to reporters on Wednesday, 15 November.
Biden told reporters he was doing everything in his power to free hostages held by the Hamas in Gaza, but that did not mean sending in the US military.
Shabnoor Irshad reports:
How every MP voted on Gaza ceasefire amendment
07:46 , Tara Cobham
Jess Phillips, the shadow minister for domestic violence and safeguarding, was among 10 frontbenchers who defied the leader’s order not to vote for the SNP amendment to the King’s Speech on Wednesday evening.
Explaining his position, which is in line with that of the government, Mr Starmer said a ceasefire would allow Hamas to regroup and launch further terror attacks on Israel.
MPs voted 293 to 125, majority 168, to reject the SNP’s King’s Speech amendment calling for “all parties to agree to an immediate ceasefire” in Gaza. Below is a breakdown of how they voted.
Matt Mathers reports:
Watch: Patients evacuated from al-Shifa Hospital hours before raid
07:40 , Tara Cobham
The filmed evacuation took place prior to the Israeli raid on 15 November.
Off-screen, a man says, “The medical teams are taking care of the situation because of the heavy dust. They are suffocating from this dust debris caused by the shell that was fired on the specialities building.”
Al-Shifa Hospital, the largest in Gaza, is Israel’s main ground operation target. Israel claims Hamas fighters have their headquarters in tunnels beneath it, which Hamas denies.
Natalie Chinn reports:
The senior Labour MPs who broke ranks to call for ceasefire in Gaza
07:20 , Tara Cobham
Eight frontbenchers have defied Sir Keir Starmer to back a Commons vote calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.
MPs voted 293 to 125, majority 168, to reject the SNP’s King’s Speech amendment calling for “all parties to agree to an immediate ceasefire” in Gaza.
Labour MPs had been ordered to abstain on the SNP move and were told instead to back Sir Keir’s position calling for longer “humanitarian pauses” rather than a ceasefire.
Here, is a closer look at those who rebelled.
Recap: Blow for Starmer as 10 frontbenchers quit or are sacked amid mass rebellion over his Gaza ceasefire stance
07:00 , Matt Mathers
Sir Keir Starmer has suffered a major blow to his authority after Labour MPs staged a mass rebellion over his stance on a ceasefire in Gaza.
A total of 10 members of the Labour leader’s frontbench resigned or were sacked as more than a quarter of his MPs defied him to support an immediate cessation in the fighting.
Jess Phillips was the most high-profile shadow minister to quit before she was fired as 56 Labour MPs in the House of Commons backed a call for a ceasefire.
Layla Moran confirms death of family member in Gaza
06:00 , Matt Mathers
The Oxford West and Abingdon MP, who claims to be the first MP of Palestinian descent, said it was the “most difficult day” she had had to endure in her parliamentary career.
David Lynch reports:
Irish Parliament motion to expel Israeli ambassador defeated
05:00 , Matt Mathers
The vote came as more than a thousand protesters calling for the expulsion of the ambassador staged a demonstration outside the Oireachtas.
David Young reports:
ICYMI: More than 20 Irish citizens out of Gaza through Rafah crossing
04:00 , Matt Mathers
More than 20 Irish citizens have left the Gaza Strip through the Rafah crossing into Egypt.
Gunfire from Israeli raid on Gaza’s largest hospital leaves medics ‘unable to move between buildings’
03:00 , Matt Mathers
The decision to send troops into the hospital is an escalation of the military offensive and may increase calls for a ceasefire, which Israel has so far resisted.
Bel Trew reports:
Supplies alone won’t save Gaza hospital patients and evacuation remains perilous, experts say
02:00 , Matt Mathers
As concerns grow for patients stranded inside Gaza’s biggest hospital, experts warned that transporting vulnerable people, including babies, is a perilous proposition under even the best circumstances.
On Tuesday, Palestinian authorities proposed a supervised evacuation of Shifa Hospital, a sprawling complex that runs several city blocks in the heart of Gaza City. Hours later, Israeli forces raided the facility — further complicating the picture.
Maria Cheng reports:
Majority of Americans back a ceasefire in Gaza as support for Israel drops
01:01 , Matt Mathers
US public support for Israel’s war in Gaza has dropped significantly over the past month and most Americans now believe Israel should agree to a ceasefire, according to a new Reuters/Ipsos poll.
The poll found that only 32 per cent agreed with the statement that the US “should support Israel,” which represents a drop of 9 per cent since the same question was asked one month ago.
Richard Hall reports:
The Israeli military has set its sights on southern Gaza. Problems loom in next phase of war
00:01 , Matt Mathers
After raiding the Gaza Strip’s largest hospital, Israel appears close to completing its takeover of the besieged territory’s northern sector, which it has described as the headquarters of the ruling Hamas militant group.
But as the military sets its sights on southern Gaza in its campaign to stamp out Hamas, key challenges loom: International patience for a protracted invasion has begun to wear thin, and with nearly 2 million displaced Gaza civilians staying in overcrowded shelters in the south, a broad military offensive there could unleash a new humanitarian disaster during the cold, wet winter.
Here’s a closer look at what could lie ahead in the coming weeks:
How every MP voted on Gaza ceasefire amendment
Wednesday 15 November 2023 23:00 , Matt Mathers
Jess Phillips, the shadow minister for domestic violence and safeguarding, was among ten frontbenchers who defied the leader’s order not to vote for the SNP amendment to the King’s Speech on Wednesday evening.
MPs voted 293 to 125, majority 168, to reject the SNP’s King’s Speech amendment calling for “all parties to agree to an immediate ceasefire” in Gaza. Below is a breakdown of how they voted:
Starmer must learn lessons from rebellion - McDonnell
Wednesday 15 November 2023 21:28 , Matt Mathers
Labour MP John McDonnell said that Sir Keir Starmer would “not necessarily” face long-term damage from the ceasefire vote “as long as he learned lessons from it”.
Mr McDonnell said MPs should have been allowed a free vote and he did not understand the basis for Sir Keir’s position.
“I think he is going against the stream, both in terms of what people want but also the basis within the Labour Party as well,” he told ITV’s Peston programme.
ICYMI: Israeli forces raid Gaza’s largest hospital in ‘targeted operation’
Wednesday 15 November 2023 21:00 , Matt Mathers
Israel says its military has launched a “targeted” operation against Hamas inside Gaza‘s largest hospital as Palestinian health officials said forces “stormed” the besieged complex in the early hours.
According to the United Nations, more than 2,500 patients, medics and internally displaced people – including dozens of vulnerable newborn babies that need incubators – are still inside al-Shifa hospital. The UN said in recent days the medical complex had run out of generator fuel and was low on vital medical supplies including anaesthesia.
Bel Trew and Chris Stevenson report:
Full report: Blow for Starmer as frontbenchers resign over Labour leader’s refusal to back Gaza ceasefire
Wednesday 15 November 2023 20:30 , Matt Mathers
A total of 10 members of Keir Starmer’s frontbench resigned or were sacked after the Labour leader was hit by a mass rebellion over his stance on a ceasefire in Gaza.
Jess Phillips and a number of other Labour MPs dramatically quit in order to support an immediate cessation in the fighting, in a major blow to Sir Keir’s authority.
Other shadow ministers - and 56 Labour MPs in total - defied their party leader to back a call for a ceasefire in the House of Commons
Eight Labour frontbenchers rebel against leadership
Wednesday 15 November 2023 20:03 , Matt Mathers
A total of eight shadow ministers voted with the SNP’s amendment calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.
Dan Carden and Mary Foy, shadow parliamentary private secretaries, also voted with the amendment.
Jess Philips becomes fourth frontbencher to quit
Wednesday 15 November 2023 19:52 , Matt Mathers
Jess Philips has become the fourth frontbencher to quit over Labour’s position on Gaza.
The Labour MP for Birmingham Yardley and shadow minister for domestic violence said it had been “one of the toughest weeks in politics” since she entered parliament.
She said it was with a “heavy heart” that she was leaving her position, adding: “I must vote with my constituents”.
Starmer hit by three resignations over Gaza ceasefire vote
Wednesday 15 November 2023 19:44 , Matt Mathers
Sir Keir Starmer has been hit by three resignations from his top team, as he faced a frontbench rebellion over his refusal to back a ceasefire in Gaza.
Three shadow ministers – Yasmin Qureshi, Afzal Khan and Paula Barker – quit on Wednesday evening, pledging to vote for an SNP amendment to the King’s Speech backing a ceasefire. It comes as comes as frontbenchers Naz Shah and Helen Hayes face being sacked after they broke ranks with their party leader and signalled plans to vote for the rival amendment.
MPs voted 293 to 125, majority 168, to reject the SNP’s King’s Speech amendment calling for “all parties to agree to an immediate ceasefire” in Gaza.
Starmer ‘regrets’ that MPs voted for amendment
Wednesday 15 November 2023 19:42 , Matt Mathers
Keir Starmer has said he “regrets” that some Labour MPs voted for the SNP’s ceasefire amendment.
In a statement released after the vote, the Labour leader said “my approach has been driven by the need to respond to both these tragedies” in Israel and Gaza.
“I regret that some colleagues felt unable to support the position tonight,” he added.
“But I wanted to be clear about where I stood, and where I will stand. Leadership is about doing the right thing. That is the least the public deserves. And the least that leadership demands.”
He did not say whether those who voted for the amendment would be sacked.
Third frontbencher quits
Wednesday 15 November 2023 19:24 , Matt Mathers
A third Labour frontbencher has resigned.
Paula Barker, shadow minister for devolution and the English regions, said she would be following “my conscience” and voting for a ceasefire.
Read her full statement below:
Second Labour frontbencher resigns
Wednesday 15 November 2023 19:12 , Matt Mathers
A second Labour frontbencher has resigned so he can vote for the SNP’s amendment calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.
Afzal Khan, the shadow minister for exports, said supporting a ceasefire was “the very least we can do”.
“Today, I will be voting for the motion calling on the UK Govt to support a #CeasefireNow in Gaza. With 11,000+ Gazans killed, supporting a full & immediate ceasefire is the very least we can do,” he wrote on X.
“In order to be free to do so, I have stepped down as Shadow Minister for Exports”.
Today, I will be voting for the motion calling on the UK Govt to support a #CeasefireNow in Gaza. With 11,000+ Gazans killed, supporting a full & immediate ceasefire is the very least we can do.
In order to be free to do so, I have stepped down as Shadow Minister for Exports 👇 pic.twitter.com/v78vo4SOq3
— Afzal Khan MP (@Afzal4Gorton) November 15, 2023
Blow for Starmer as frontbencher resigns over Labour leader’s refusal to back Gaza ceasefire
Wednesday 15 November 2023 19:04 , Matt Mathers
Yasmin Qureshi, the shadow women and equalities minister and MP for Bolton South, said: “The scale of bloodshed in Gaza is unprecedented. Tonight, I will vote for an immediate ceasefire.
“We must call for an end to the carnage to protect innocent lives and end human suffering. With regret, I have stepped down as shadow women and equalities minister.”
WHO head Tedros Ghebreyesus calls Israeli raid on al Shifa Hospital ‘totally unacceptable’
Wednesday 15 November 2023 18:55 , Matt Mathers
Thousands are fleeing al-Shifa but reports and videos are emerging from the hospital, where hundreds of patients, including babies, remain trapped during an ongoing raid by Israeli troops.
The hospital has ran out of fuel, and is no longer considered operational, creating a catastrophic situtation for patients and staff, sparking international criticsm against the IDF.
“Hospitals are not battlegrounds. We’re extremely worried for the safety of staff and patients.” says Ghebreyesus.
Watch the clip here:
AOC leads two dozen in letter to Biden calling for ceasefire
Wednesday 15 November 2023 18:40 , Matt Mathers
Top US Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez led two dozen House members in a letter to Joe Biden calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.
“We thank the President for calling for a humanitarian pause so that humanitarian aid may flow and diplomacy may take place,” the letter says.
“However, given the present lack of an apparent and clear strategic plan, we encourage a redoubling of efforts to achieve rapid de-escalation through a ceasefire and robust, regional engagement that includes international humanitarian organizations.”
Protesters gather outside parliament ahead of vote
Wednesday 15 November 2023 18:29 , Matt Mathers
Thousands of protesters have gathered outside parliament’s ahead of tonight’s vote.
Demonstrators sang pro-Palestine chants and held placards calling for a ceasefire.
The Campaign Against Antisemitism group said some of those present sang “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”, which it described as a “genocidal” chant.
London, England. Peace activists gather outside the Houses of Parliament, as MPs vote on whether or not to demand Israel calls a ceasefire in Gaza, Palestine. pic.twitter.com/VYd7MMPpOy
— Tory Fibs (@ToryFibs) November 15, 2023
The genocidal “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” chant was shouted outside the Houses of Parliament moments ago.
This chant calls for the destruction of the world’s only Jewish state.
We must not allow antisemitism to be normalised.pic.twitter.com/osKQnEIKeW
— Campaign Against Antisemitism (@antisemitism) November 15, 2023
Watch: Protesters disrupt Labour’s Israel-Hamas speech in House of Commons
Wednesday 15 November 2023 18:10 , Matt Mathers
A group of around five or six people were removed from the public gallery after holding up “Ceasefire now” signs during the King’s Speech debate.
Doorkeepers approached the group and removed them from the public gallery.
Extinction Rebellion (XR) claimed responsibility for the protest.
It comes as Labour MPs were due to be subject to a three-line whip to abstain on the SNP’s amendment to the King’s Speech calling for a ceasefire.
Watch the clip here:
Two more frontbenchers signal intention to vote for amendment
Wednesday 15 November 2023 17:44 , Matt Mathers
Two more Labour frontbenchers have signalled their intention to vote for the SNP’s call for a ceasefire in Gaza.
Helen Hayes, shadow minister for children and early years , said her “conscience” she should back a ceasfire.
Labour shadow business minister Afzal Khan also called for a ceasefire.
The MP for Manchester Gorton told the Commons: “If we had a ceasefire yesterday 144 Gazan children would still be alive today. Israel has already crossed every red line imaginable and broken international humanitarian laws.
“History has shown us that military action alone does not resolve conflicts and Israel’s use of force will not resolve this one.
“We need to call an immediate ceasefire now. My constituents have demanded this and I will not refuse them. Supporting a ceasefire is the very least we can do.”
Labour frontbencher confirms she’ll back SNP call for Gaza ceasefire
Wednesday 15 November 2023 16:45 , Matt Mathers
The shadow minister for crime reduction Naz Shah has become the first Labour frontbencher to publicly confirm she will for the SNP’s call for a ceasefire in Gaza.
“I will be supporting the amendment which seeks an immediate ceasefire,” she told the Commons earlier.
Labour MPs have been ordered by the whips’ office to abstain on the vote, meaning she could be sacked.
Vote on Labour and SNP motions expected after 7pm
Wednesday 15 November 2023 16:30 , Matt Mathers
The votes on the competing Labour and SNP motions will come after a debate on the King’s Speech ends after 7pm.
Nearly 70 Labour MPs have defied their Sir Keir Starmer to call for a ceasefire now, including 19 members of the frontbench.
Shadow minister and frontbencher Imran Hussain was the first to quit his position last week, in order to advocate for an immediate ceasefire.
The al-Shifa hospital raid shows the limits of US influence on Israel
Wednesday 15 November 2023 16:09 , Holly Evans
The attack on al-Shifa hospital has shown the apparent limits of the influence of the US, the main international ally of Israel, on military decisions taken by Benjamin Netanyahu’s government in the Gaza conflict.
The US administration of Joe Biden has stressed that it does not wish to see Israeli forces carrying out assaults on medical facilities, and has counselled extreme caution on the part of the Israeli military while conducting operations in surrounding areas.
President Biden said: “My hope and expectation is that there will be less intrusive action relative to hospitals. I remain somewhat hopeful, but the hospital must be protected.”
Read more from world affairs editor Kim Sengupta here
Stephen Flynn calls for MPs to have 'free vote' on Israel-Hamas ceasefire
Wednesday 15 November 2023 16:05 , Holly Evans
SNP Westminster leader says Gaza to turn into ‘graveyard’ without ceasefire
Wednesday 15 November 2023 15:58 , Holly Evans
Gaza will be turned into a graveyard if there is not an immediate ceasefire, the SNP has said.
Speaking during Prime Minister’s Questions, SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn said: “In 2010, the then prime minister and now Foreign Secretary David Cameron said that people in Gaza are living under constant attacks and pressure in an open air prison, does the current Prime Minister not agree that if there is not an immediate ceasefire then all of us in this chamber will be watching on as that open air prison is turned into a graveyard?”
He added: “How much worse does it need to get, 4,609 children are already dead in Gaza, babies in the neo-natal intensive care unit are dying because they don’t have access to oxygen.”
UN aid chief begs Israel to open second crossing into Gaza
Wednesday 15 November 2023 15:48 , Holly Evans
U.N. aid chief Martin Griffiths on Wednesday implored Israel to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza via the Kerem Shalom crossing in Israel.
“Kerem Shalom, please Israel, give us that for our crossing point,” Griffiths told reporters in Geneva.
Griffiths said that the Kerem Shalom crossing was used to carry more than 60% of the truckloads going into Gaza before this conflict.
The aid currently going into Gaza comes from the Rafah crossing on the Egyptian border.
Resignations over ceasefire to be largest challenge to Sir Keir leadership
Wednesday 15 November 2023 15:40 , Kate Devlin
A series of resignation would be the largest challenge to Sir Keir’s authority since the early days of his leadership of the party.
Last month four shadow ministers were said to be on resignation watch over Sir Keir’s refusal to back a ceasefire.
The Labour leader was forced to hold a crunch meeting with a group of Muslim Labour MPs to address anger over his handling of the crisis – including comments in which he appeared to back the cutting of power and water to Gaza.
One frontbencher Imran Hussain, the MP for Bradford East, did resign saying he was quitting his role as a shadow minister to be able to “strongly advocate” for a ceasefire.
The decision not to back a ceasefire also prompted the exodus of a series of councillors from the party.
Labour MPs will be under a three-line whip to abstain on the SNP’s call for a ceasefire
Wednesday 15 November 2023 15:29 , Holly Evans
Labour MPs will be under a three-line whip to back the party’s amendment to the King’s Speech calling for longer humanitarian pauses in Gaza.
They will also be under a three-line whip to abstain on the SNP’s amendment calling for a ceasefire, meaning frontbenchers will almost certainly be sacked if they rebel and support it.
A Labour spokesman said: “This is a whipped vote and every MP knows what the consequence of that means.”
The spokesman acknowledged that shadow ministers had been given some freedom to speak in favour of a ceasefire, but said a Commons vote was a different matter.
“There is an understanding that there is a difference when it comes to the space that we have allowed, given that we fully understand that this is a very challenging subject … in the debate that there has been up to this point, but at the point at which there is a vote in Parliament that clearly is something that has a significance to it that everybody understands,” the spokesman said.
IDF incursion into hospital is ‘totally unacceptable’, says WHO chief
Wednesday 15 November 2023 15:25 , Holly Evans
Israel’s incursion into Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza has been criticised as “totally unacceptable” by the World Health Organisation’s chief.
Israeli troops entered Shifa, Gaza’s biggest hospital, on Wednesday as part of their assault on the Palestinian territory.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a press conference in Geneva that patients and staff must be protected even if hospitals were used for military purposes.
“Hospitals are not battlegrounds,” he said.
He said that the WHO had lost touch with medical personnel and the organisation had no reports on the number of deaths in Gaza over the last three days, making it difficult to assess the state of their current healthcare system.
He said one WHO staff member had described it as: “No water, no electricity, only bombing, bombing, bombing.”
Gunfire from Israeli raid on Gaza’s largest hospital leaves medics ‘unable to move between buildings’
Wednesday 15 November 2023 15:14 , Holly Evans
Witnesses say the troops have been searching wards of questioning people inside, having surrounded the complex where more than 2,000 patients, staff and people sheltering have been trapped without electricity and supplies.
Israel’s military spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said that troops were carrying out “a precise and targeted operation against Hamas in a specified area in Shifa Hospital” which the military claim sits atop a command centre and a network of militant tunnels. It is an accusation Hamas denies.
Read the full report from international correspondent Bel Trew below
A Pennsylvania family waited weeks to be evacuated from Gaza. Then they were bombed
Wednesday 15 November 2023 15:06 , Holly Evans
Pennsylvania mother Noha Abuolba and her two teenage daughters were travelling south on a bus through Gaza on their way to the border.
They didn’t know if they would be able to cross, since only a limited number of American citizens had permission to leave each day, but after weeks of being stranded in a warzone, they were desperate enough to try.
As the family made their way along the coastal road, what they believe to be an Israeli airstrike hit their vehicle, followed by gunfire. Multiple people died around them. Eighteen-year-old Saja Abuolba suffered shrapnel wounds in her shoulder and back. Her sister, 17-year-old Farah, lost two fingers on her left hand.
Read the full story from Richard Hall here
Extinction Rebellion stage protest in public gallery with ‘ceasefire now’ signs
Wednesday 15 November 2023 15:01 , Holly Evans
A group of Extinction Rebellion protesters has been removed from the House of Commons public gallery after holding up “ceasefire now” signs.
The group’s action came during the King’s Speech debate as shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper spoke about the Israel-Hamas conflict and Labour’s amendment.
Extinction Rebellion said its activists had staged the protest in the House of Commons in order to call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.
XR spokesperson Rosie Merrifield said: “Parliament must today demand that the Government calls for an immediate ceasefire and commits to back an internationally arbitrated resolution which ensures the absolute protection of human rights for all, and lasting safety and peace for the Palestinian and Israeli people.”
Commons showdown looming for Sir Keir Starmer
Wednesday 15 November 2023 14:57 , Holly Evans
Sir Keir Starmer is battling to avoid a damaging split in Labour as rebel MPs appear set to defy him to back calls for a ceasefire in Gaza.
The SNP has tabled an amendment to the King’s Speech calling for a ceasefire which could be selected for a vote by Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle.
SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn has said Parliament must “show moral leadership” and vote in favour of backing an immediate cessation of hostilities.
Labour MPs have been ordered to abstain on the SNP move and have instead been told to back Sir Keir’s position calling for longer “humanitarian pauses” rather than a ceasefire.
Labour frontbenchers who rebel to back a rival amendment would normally face the sack for breaking the party whip.
Medical charity says 300 patients and staff inside hospital
Wednesday 15 November 2023 14:40 , Holly Evans
The medical charity Doctors Without Borders said that there are at least 300 patients and staff inside the Al-Shifa hospital, which is currently “at the mercy of gunfire, shelling and fire from drones”.
Deputy medical co-ordinator Natalie Thurtle said that her team had only managed to establish brief communication with staff inside the hospital and said that another 100 members and families were in the surrounding vicinity.
She told BBC Radio 4’s The World at One programme: “We’ve been trying to evacuate them for three days”, she said, but the action had been hindered due to “sustained” fighting around the hospital.
“It’s very perilous and there is no opportunity for people to leave Shifa at the moment.”
Turkish president calls Israel a ‘terror state’ in latest address
Wednesday 15 November 2023 14:30 , Holly Evans
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has called Israel a “terror state” committing war crimes and violating international law in Gaza, sharpening his repeated criticism of Israeli leaders and their backers in the West.
Speaking two days before a planned visit to Germany to meet Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Erdogan said Israel’s military campaign against Palestinian militant group Hamas included “the most treacherous attacks in human history” with “unlimited” support from the West.
He called for Israeli leaders to be tried for war crimes at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, and repeated his view - and Turkey’s position - that Hamas is not a terrorist organisation but a political party that won past elections.
Hospital unable to treat patients or perform operations as raid continues
Wednesday 15 November 2023 14:00 , Holly Evans
Speaking on Wednesday morning, Dr Ahmed El Mokhallalati said he felt relief when troops finally entered the complex, because the fear of being bombarded from outside had been immense.
“All kinds of weapons were used around the hospital. They targeted the hospital directly. We try to avoid being near the windows,” he said, describing a large hole that had been blasted through the wall of a room in an outpatient building.
“Everyone got really, really terrified. It’s continuous shooting from the tanks,” he said.
Mokhallalati said Israel had warned the administration in advance of the raid, but staff did not know how it would be carried out.
“No one is operating, no one is seeing anyone. We are all waiting for the end point of this one, are we going to survive this moment or not. We are unable to perform anything, we are all waiting for the attack to settle down or to come to an end.”
Doctor says IDF tanks have parked in front of the hospital
Wednesday 15 November 2023 13:28 , Holly Evans
A doctor in Gaza’s Al Shifa hospital said staff, patients and displaced Palestinians sheltering there were terrified as Israeli forces moved to raid the complex.
Dr Ahmed El Mokhallalati said explosions and gunfire which they had been hearing for over a month suddenly stepped up early Tuesday evening.
“The sound was really horrible,” he said by telephone. “And then we realized that the tanks are moving around the hospital. One of the big tanks entered within the hospital from the eastern main gate, and they were, they were they just parked in the front of the hospital emergency department.”
Israel said the military had launched the raid because Hamas has a command centre under the hospital and uses connected tunnels to hold hostages.
WHO loses touch with medical staff at Al-Shifa hospital
Wednesday 15 November 2023 13:07 , Holly Evans
The director-general of the World Health Organisation has said they have lost touch with medical staff at the Al-Shifa hospital.
“Reports of military incursion into Al Shifa hospital are deeply concerning,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus wrote on social media platform X.
“We’ve lost touch again with health personnel at the hospital. We’re extremely worried for their and their patients’ safety.”
Reports of military incursion into Al-Shifa hospital are deeply concerning.
We’ve lost touch again with health personnel at the hospital.
We’re extremely worried for their and their patients’ safety.
— Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (@DrTedros) November 15, 2023