Council meeting descends into chaos as protesters interrupt calling for Gaza ceasefire

By Joe Coughlan, Local Democracy Reporter

A council meeting was evacuated after protesters began chanting in the council chamber, asking the authority to call for a ceasefire in Gaza.

A Greenwich full council meeting on Wednesday was paused after pro-Palestinian protestors interrupted proceedings.

Protesters began shouting from the public gallery of the council chamber during public questions. Attendees started chanting, “ceasefire now,” after a resident Colin Fancy made a statement.

The council meeting was evacuated after protestors demanded the authority call for a ceasefire in Gaza (Video: Greenwich council)

Mr Fancy said at the meeting: “Even those who don’t know the long history of Palestine [and] Israel have seen the bombing inflicted on the people of Gaza over the last two months. The horrifying pictures of hospitals, schools and homes bombed week after week, month after month.”

He added: “Up to 20,000 Palestinians killed, including over 6,000 children. 6,000 children killed in two months. It does not take two months to condemn the bombing, the killing and to call for a ceasefire.”

Mr Fancy had sent a question to the council before the meeting to ask if Greenwich council would agree to a twin town relationship with Bethlehem. The resident then made the statement at the meeting after being offered a chance to ask a supplementary question.

The resident’s microphone was cut off and mayor of Greenwich Dominic Mbang told councillors to leave the chamber while police escorted the protesters out of the building. The meeting resumed shortly afterwards.

Three Greenwich councillors, Majella Anning, Issy Cooke and John Fahy, were part of more than 300 Labour councillors who signed a letter last month asking for party leader Keir Starmer to call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. The request came after the leader publicly stated that he felt a ceasefire would encourage further attacks from Hamas against Israel in the future.

The party leader said in a statement on December 1 that the level of death and destruction from the conflict in the past weeks had been “intolerable”.

Greenwich council leader Anthony Okereke said in a statement on October 20 that the authority’s condolences go to all people affected by the conflict in Israel and Gaza

He said: “We are seeing a catastrophic loss of life on a scale that is difficult to comprehend. The degree of devastation is being felt acutely by families and their loved ones on both sides of the conflict. This complex and long standing issue has resulted in heartbreak and the unnecessary loss of thousands of lives.”

A Greenwich council spokesman said: “We understand there is strong feeling on both sides of the conflict and that people have a right to express those views.

“The council has a long-standing relationship with faith leaders in our community and they recently came together in an act of solidarity and to call for a speedy and peaceful resolution to this conflict.”

Pictured top: The protest began with resident Colin Fancy asking a supplementary question at the meeting (Picture: Greenwich Council)

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