Whanganui District Council calls for Gaza ceasefire

Published on 07 May 2024

Gaza map

Whanganui District Council’s elected representatives have called for an immediate and permanent ceasefire in Gaza and condemned all acts of violence and terror against civilians on all sides.

The decision came after the Whanganui branch of the Palestinian Solidarity Network of Aotearoa peacefully marched to the meeting and presented councillors with a petition with more than 2,000 signatures. After the petition was presented, Councillor Josh Chandulal-Mackay moved a notice of motion calling for an immediate and permanent ceasefire, seconded by Councillor Charlotte Melser.

Councillor Josh Chandulal-Mackay said he put the request forward because he believed Whanganui District Council should follow in the footsteps of local authorities nationally and around the world calling for a ceasefire.

He said the situation in Gaza was a humanitarian crisis.

“In an area around half the size of Auckland you’ve got two million civilians – men, women and children – in dire conditions with very little access to hospitals, a lack of sanitary facilities, and limited food and resources, facing a daily bombardment by Israel.”

In the last seven months more than 34,000 people have been killed, including more than 9,000 women and 13,000 children. Over 71,000 have been injured, many with life-changing mutilations. One million people are facing “catastrophic” levels of food insecurity and more than 60 percent of residential buildings, and 80 percent of school buildings, have been destroyed.

Cr Chandulal-Mackay said that the call for the cessation of violence against all civilians was about acknowledging that both Palestinians and Israelis in Whanganui and around the world have been affected by the violence caused by this war.

“Violence against civilians in all its forms is egregious, including the suffering experienced by hostages held on both sides of the conflict.” 

Cr Chandulal-Mackay said it was important to speak up.

“I know people sometimes see an awful situation out there in the world and feel powerless to help – but speaking up to apply pressure does make a difference. While a ceasefire has not yet been achieved, you can already see the impact of countries within the global community adding their voices to the call for a ceasefire.

“One thing we know for sure is that silence does not result in progress.”

In further motions, the council condemned all acts of violence and terror against civilians and called for a release of all hostages on all sides in the Palestinian and Israeli conflict.

Mayor Andrew Tripe spoke in support of the decision, saying the situation in Gaza was horrific.

“Citizens in this area are experiencing unimaginable suffering and the impact of this conflict will have generational consequences.

“A call for peace and unity in Gaza is something I am sure we can all agree on.”


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