A group of councillors who quit Labour over the party's official stance on a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas have sent their formal resignations to the party.

The letter was signed by eight Blackburn with Darwen councillors, one more than the seven who had resigned last month.

Councillors Salim Sidat, Suleman Khonat, Adbul Patel, Mustafa Desai, Saj Ali, Samim Desai and Salma Patel said they could not support the party due to its stance not calling for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.

An eighth councillor, Mohammed Irfan, who represents Billinge and Beardwood, had been suspended by the party over a post in which he asked whether the Pakistani Army ‘could join the war to help Palestine’. He has now also quit the Labour party. 

All the councillors will continue to sit as independents.

Labour has repeatedly said it supports calls for humanitarian pauses in the conflict to allow aid to reach civilians in Gaza, where a humanitarian crisis is ongoing, and to allow the release of hostages by Hamas, a stance shared by the Conservative Government and US President Joe Biden.

Tensions between Israel and terrorist group Hamas - which controls the Palestinian enclave of Gaza - sparked up again when Hamas militants carried out a terrorist attack in Israel, killing hundreds and taking hostages.

This sparked an aerial bombardment of Gaza City by Israel, which it states were targeted barrages against Hamas strongholds, however an estimated 13,000 innocent Palestinians, including thousands of children, have been killed in the blasts.

A humanitarian crisis, after Israel cut off water, fuel and aid to the enclave, has also gripped Gaza.

Through Qatari mediators, a truce appears to be close between Israel and Hamas, which would include a multi-day pause in fighting, the release of around 50 Israeli hostages by Hamas, and the release of Palestinian women and children detained by Israel.

In a letter to David Evans, General Secretary of the Labour Party, the councillors said: “We are writing to inform you that the party we supported for a great number of years sadly has and continues to drift.

"it no longer represents the working-class people nor their values and certainly does not align with our core humanitarian values.

“The ongoing indiscriminate and disproportionate bombings by Israel killing thousands of innocent men, women and children, destroying the infrastructure, cutting off water, food, fuel and medical supplies, restricting aid corridors all potentially equate to breaches of many international humanitarian laws, yet Keir is 'happy' to justify this as 'Israel's right to self-defence', to date he still has not apologised for his comments on LBC; absolutely despicable.”

In relation to the comments referred to in the letter, several weeks ago Keir Starmer clarified that he said Israel has the right to defend itself within international law.

The letter adds the leadership's stance on not calling for a ceasefire is ‘bewildering to say the least’. 

The letter continues: “We felt our positions within the party became untenable.

"We could not continue being members of a party whose leadership is unwilling to callout atrocities Israel is committing against a civilian population, and so it was with a heavy heart we tendered our resignations from the Labour Party.

“Over the last few weeks, we have tried to complete the online resignation process however much like the Labour party leadership it appears to be totally dysfunctional. 

“Please accept this as a formal notification of our respective resignations.”

Last week, a number of MPs defied the party whip and voted for an SNP motion calling for a ceasefire, with several shadow ministers resigning from their roles.

Protests calling for a ceasefire have taken place on a weekly basis across the country, however some - particularly in London - have seen a small minority of participants partaking in anti-Semitic abuse and hate crimes.