An LFI delegation of Labour parliamentarians and former parliamentarians has this week visited Israel in solidarity following the 7 October attacks and subsequent conflict with Hamas.
The delegation, led by former LFI chair Dame Louise Ellman, includes LFI vice-chair Christian Wakeford MP, Dame Margaret Hodge MP, Baroness Ruth Anderson of Stoke-on-Trent, and LFI lay chair Adrian Cohen.
The three-day delegation included time in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Kibbutz Kfar Aza, which was devastated by the 7 October attacks and which LFI has visited on many previous delegations.
The delegation’s itinerary included meetings with Israeli president Isaac Herzog, British and British-linked families of hostages being held in Gaza, British Ambassador to Israel Simon Walters, senior adviser to the Israeli prime minister and former Israeli ambassador to the UK Mark Regev, former IDF deputy chief of staff Yair Golan and Israeli Labor leader Merav Michaeli.
The delegation also visited Kibbutz Kfar Aza, a kibbutz near the Gaza border which has been a feature of LFI delegations in the past and which was devastated by Hamas on 7 October, and briefings from the IDF.
The itinerary also included briefings with IDF spokesman and director-general of Histadrut international division Peter Lerner, expert on sexual violence against Israeli women on 7 October professor Ruth Kaddari, and visits to the headquarters of Brothers and Sisters for Israel campaign group and an exhibition of artefacts from massacre at Nova music festival on 7 October.
Former LFI chair and LFI board member Dame Louise Ellman said:
“It is so important for us, as Labour Friends of Israel, to be here this week showing our solidarity following the 7 October attacks and the subsequent war with Hamas.
This delegation is an opportunity for supporters of Israel in the Labour party to see and hear first-hand about what this country and its people have experienced in recent months.
Through meetings with senior politicians and experts, the families of British-linked hostages being held in Gaza, and revisiting a place that has become a feature of LFI delegations – Kibbutz Kfar Aza – we have been able to gain an insight into the impact of the horrific 7 October attacks and the ensuing conflict with Hamas terrorists.
Amid the horror and despair since then, we can take comfort in the international bonds of solidarity that tie us together, both as countries and as progressives. The message that we have brought here is clear: at this darkest moment, Israel has a friend in the Labour party.”
LFI vice-chair Christian Wakeford MP said:
“This delegation has been an important opportunity for me to demonstrate solidarity, bear witness and share in the pain of the Israeli and Jewish people since 7 October.
This is my second trip to Israel within a year, including my second visit to Kfar Aza. However, the devastating impact those harrowing attacks by Hamas have been plain for all to see.
This experience has strengthened my own belief in the need for us to stand by peacemakers, both Israeli and Palestinian, in their work towards a peaceful future.”