UK

SNP Westminster leader urges PM and Sir Keir Starmer to back Gaza ceasefire

It is not clear where civilians in Rafah could move to in the event of a ground invasion.

It is estimated that more than half of Gaza’s population is sheltering in Rafah (Hatem Ali/AP)
Gaza It is estimated that more than half of Gaza’s population is sheltering in Rafah (Hatem Ali/AP) (Hatem Ali/AP)

SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn has written to the Prime Minister and Labour leader urging them to back an immediate ceasefire in Gaza amid mounting concern over a planned Israeli ground invasion of Rafah.

Mr Flynn said that such action there would “amount to waging a war in the largest refugee camp in the world.”

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has asked the military to plan for the evacuation of hundreds of thousands of people in the city of Rafah ahead of an expected ground invasion.

The city, on the southern border with Egypt, is providing refuge to more than half of Gaza’s population of 2.3 million people.

In his letter to Rishi Sunak and Sir Keir Starmer, Mr Flynn said that such an assault there “cannot be allowed to happen”” and urged them to join the SNP in calling for an immediate ceasefire.

He wrote: “Whatever our differences on this issue in the past number of months, whatever the rationale for the UK government and the Labour Party in opposing an immediate ceasefire until this point, surely now is the time to say enough is enough.

“Only pressing for an immediate ceasefire has any hope of stopping an even more horrific humanitarian disaster unfolding before the watching world.

“In changing course now, and joining us in pressing for an immediate ceasefire, I also hope it will act as an important catalyst for the entire international community to come together and finally put a stop to the conflict in Gaza and Israel.

“By acting now, it remains within the power of the international community to press for an immediate ceasefire, stop the imminent assault on Rafah, secure the unconditional release of all the remaining hostages taken by Hamas, and finally put an end to the collective punishment of the Palestinian people.”

It comes after Scotland’s First Minister Humza Yousaf on Saturday said that a threatened Israeli ground invasion of the Gazan city of Rafah would cause “devastation beyond comprehension” and urged the international community to demand an immediate ceasefire.

Foreign Secretary Lord David Cameron has said he is “deeply concerned” about the situation.

Writing on X, formerly Twitter, he said: “Deeply concerned about the prospect of a military offensive in Rafah – over half of Gaza’s population are sheltering in the area.

“The priority must be an immediate pause in the fighting to get aid in and hostages out, then progress towards a sustainable, permanent ceasefire.”

Sir Keir has said an Israeli offensive there would be “catastrophic” adding: “The fighting must stop now. We need a sustainable ceasefire.”

According to Israel, Rafah is the last remaining stronghold for Hamas fighters in Gaza, after more than four months of conflict sparked by the deadly October 7 Hamas attack on Israel.

It is not clear where civilians in Rafah could move to as Israeli evacuation orders now cover two-thirds of Gaza.

The latest figures from the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry put the overall Palestinian death toll at more than 28,100.

Labour have been asked for comment.