Some councillors are described as intimidated during the pro-Palestine protest at the recent Council meeting. (Safety concerns are “false”, 06/05/24).

How people feel in different situations varies tremendously, and no-one’s feelings should be dismissed. As a counsellor, another role I have, that is a fundamental rule.

My own concern was for the safety of those in the public gallery. The protesters who disrupted the meeting were peacefully removed, but had they resisted, the effectiveness of the low balustrade might have been tested. A safety issue of a different kind.

The disruption itself devalued the protest taking place outside. I support the right of those describing themselves as “Palestinian, Jewish and white residents” to express their views on the tragedy of Gaza.

Liberal Democrats recognise the right of Israel to protect itself, but have long since called for a cease-fire, to end the killing of innocent civilians, and to provide critically needed supplies to those displaced.

The right to protest is part of what makes this country great, but the disruption of the meeting was a step too far. The council has no influence over what is happening in Gaza.

It cannot make a ‘statement’ about every situation that ought to be condemned.

Things were said from the balcony that nevertheless resonated. The anger expressed at what is happening was real and justifiable.

Some phrases used, went too far. One thing, not said, that should be, at each and every protest, is an unreserved condemnation of the Hamas atrocities of October last year, that preceded what is happening now.

Gaza breaks my heart. It should do, all of our hearts. Expressions of intimidation by councillors may be authentic, but they are as nothing by comparison with the daily experience of Palestinians who had nothing to do with what happened in October.

It needs to end.

Cllr Jeff Hanna

Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate, Bournemouth West