A mass protest outside Scottish Labour's party conference is expected this week on Keir Starmer’s position on the Gaza conflict.

Thousands of protesters could descend on Glasgow over the UK Labour leader’s opposition to an immediate ceasefire in the war between terror group Hamas and Israel.

The latest figures from the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry put the overall Palestinian death toll at more than 28,100.

Mr Starmer will appear at the conference, which starts on Friday and continues to Sunday, and is being held at the SEC, as opinion polls show he is on course for Downing Street with Labour ahead of the Conservatives by around 20 percentage points.

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But Labour is coming under pressure from the SNP over Mr Starmer's failure to back an immediate ceasefire.

Mr Starmer has faced an angry backlash over his stance on the bloodshed in the Middle East. He initially said Israel had the right to withhold water and power from Gaza, but later clarified to say this was not what he meant.

He has also called for a “sustainable” ceasefire rather than an immediate one. Part of the challenge over the weekend will be ensuring there are no security breaches.

Mr Starmer was confronted by pro-Palestinian protestors at Glasgow Central Station in December en route to a Labour fundraiser. Protestors disrupted a speech by Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar in Rutherglen in January.

Footage has also emerged of campaigners confronting Scots Labour MP Ian Murray at a recent Labour meeting.Mr Murray responded at the time: “You can’t criticise me for not communicating with you when three of you are shouting at me and I can’t hear a word.”

Mr Sarwar and Mr Starmer are close, but the war has created a rift between the pair. The Scots Labour leader, who backs an immediate ceasefire, was angered by the initial water and power comments.

A leaked account of a meeting of MSPs and the Labour Muslim Network on October 16, at which Mr Sarwar thanked the Network for trying to get Labour into a more “sensible” position.

He said of Mr Starmer: “That humanity and empathy is, if we are being blunt about it, what has been missing from some of the statements which has caused so much of the hurt, where it feels as if there is an inconsistency, or a de-humanizing, or not seeing the value of one life to be equal to another life.”

Mr Murray and fellow Scottish Labour MP Michael Shanks have lined up behind Starmer’s position on Gaza.

Meanwhile, SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn has written to the Prime Minister and Labour leader urging them to back an immediate ceasefire in Gaza amid mounting concern over a planned Israeli ground invasion of Rafah.

Mr Flynn said that such action there would “amount to waging a war in the largest refugee camp in the world.”

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has asked the military to plan for the evacuation of hundreds of thousands of people in the city of Rafah ahead of an expected ground invasion.

The city, on the southern border with Egypt, is providing refuge to more than half of Gaza’s population of 2.3 million people.

In his letter to Rishi Sunak and Mr Starmer, Mr Flynn said that such an assault there “cannot be allowed to happen”” and urged them to join the SNP in calling for an immediate ceasefire.

He wrote: “Whatever our differences on this issue in the past number of months, whatever the rationale for the UK government and the Labour Party in opposing an immediate ceasefire until this point, surely now is the time to say enough is enough.

“Only pressing for an immediate ceasefire has any hope of stopping an even more horrific humanitarian disaster unfolding before the watching world.

“In changing course now, and joining us in pressing for an immediate ceasefire, I also hope it will act as an important catalyst for the entire international community to come together and finally put a stop to the conflict in Gaza and Israel.

“By acting now, it remains within the power of the international community to press for an immediate ceasefire, stop the imminent assault on Rafah, secure the unconditional release of all the remaining hostages taken by Hamas, and finally put an end to the collective punishment of the Palestinian people.”

It comes after Scotland’s First Minister Humza Yousaf on Saturday said that a threatened Israeli ground invasion of the Gazan city of Rafah would cause “devastation beyond comprehension” and urged the international community to demand an immediate ceasefire.

Foreign Secretary Lord David Cameron has said he is “deeply concerned” about the situation.
Writing on X, formerly Twitter, he said: “Deeply concerned about the prospect of a military offensive in Rafah – over half of Gaza’s population are sheltering in the area.

“The priority must be an immediate pause in the fighting to get aid in and hostages out, then progress towards a sustainable, permanent ceasefire.”

Sir Keir has said an Israeli offensive there would be “catastrophic” adding: “The fighting must stop now. We need a sustainable ceasefire.”

According to Israel, Rafah is the last remaining stronghold for Hamas fighters in Gaza, after more than four months of conflict sparked by the deadly October 7 Hamas attack on Israel.

It is not clear where civilians in Rafah could move to as Israeli evacuation orders now cover two-thirds of Gaza.

Scottish Labour were approached for comment.