Totnes council has signed an open letter calling for an immediate ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war, which has been raging since last October.

The letter is being sent to local Conservative MP Anthony Mangnall, prime minister Rishi Sunak, and the leader of the opposition, Sir Keir Starmer.

Tens of thousands of people, mostly civilians, have been killed in Gaza so far amid a failure by the international community to help end the conflict.

Deputy mayor Sarah Collinson referred to the “very moving testimonies” from individuals affected by the war as well as the representations from a large number of local residents involved with Palestinian solidarity charities as a motivating factor behind the letter.

“How can we not ask for a ceasefire in this situation? It’s just so horrendous what’s been happening,” she said.

Cllr Jacqi Hodgson said she thought it was “extraordinary” that the government had failed to act, while Cllr Ben Piper said: “I am really proud that we are doing this. There have been ongoing wars for a very long time, but this one has been extraordinarily brutal.

“The decimation of aid workers...and the attrition rate for journalists has been disproportionate relative to any other conflict.”

According to the latest figures from Gaza’s ministry of health, at least 22,835 Palestinians have so far been killed, with more than 58,400 reportedly injured.

Although the figure does not distinguish between civilians and combatants (Israel claims to have killed about 8,000 Hamas fighters), an estimated 70 per cent of the fatalities are women and children. In addition, about 7,000 more people are reportedly missing, believed to be dead.

The attack was launched following Hamas’ raid into Israel on October 7, in which 1,139 people were killed, including 685 civilians.

Israel has been accused of the disproportionate and indiscriminate bombing of Gaza, which is also one of the most densely populated areas in the world, while Hamas militants have been accused of raping and torturing victims during the October 7 attack.

The move by Totnes council comes after the last failed attempt by the UN to call for a ceasefire. Although 153 member countries backed the resolution on December 12, the US and 10 other countries – including Israel - voted against. The UK abstained.