LATER today, the House of Commons will vote on a motion tabled by the SNP calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and Israel; for an immediate end to the fighting that is causing death, destruction and suffering on an almost unimaginable scale.

I hope MPs from all parties will unite behind it.

The attack by Hamas last October, leading to the loss of so many Israeli lives, was unforgiveable. The hostages it still holds must be released immediately.

Israel has a right to defend itself, of course – but that does not, cannot, give it a right to wreak collective punishment on the people of Palestine, who are no more responsible for the actions of Hamas than Israelis are for those of Benjamin Netanyahu.

The horror that is unfolding in Gaza, day after day, is beyond comprehension.

When the SNP last tabled a ceasefire motion – back in November – the death toll stood at just over 11,000, with children accounting for almost half of the lives lost. Today, the death toll has reached more than 28,000, the vast majority of them women and children.

Around 68,000 people have been injured. Much of the Gaza Strip is already in ruins. The healthcare system is barely functioning. A grave humanitarian crisis is escalating before our eyes.

It cannot go on. It must not go on. And yet, there is every reason to fear that the situation is about to get even worse, with Israel threatening an assault on the city of Rafah, in the south of Gaza.

Around 1.5 million Gazans – equivalent to around six times the normal population of the city – are currently in Rafah. Most of them are there because they fled the fighting elsewhere in Gaza. They are displaced, homeless, cold, hungry and terrified. They have nowhere else to go.

The consequences of an Israeli offensive would be horrific. It does not bear thinking about.

The world simply cannot stand by as the horror intensifies. Those suffering in Gaza are our fellow human beings. Their lives matter every bit as much as ours do. We must not avert our eyes in their hour of greatest need.

There must be united global opposition to an assault on Rafah and intense pressure for an immediate ceasefire.

By voting for the SNP motion today, the House of Commons can put the UK in the vanguard of a global push for peace. Failure to back the motion today will be an appalling abdication of our collective responsibility to stand up for peace and our common humanity.

An end to the killing and a substantial increase in humanitarian aid to ease the suffering of the Gazan people must be the immediate priorities. But what must then quickly follow is a serious, concerted, internationally backed process to build a lasting peace, founded on a sustainable two-state solution.

For peace to prevail in the long term, Israel’s security must be beyond doubt or question. But peace also depends on ensuring the security of a viable state of Palestine, and delivering justice, so long overdue, for the Palestinian people.

It is time for MPs to come together to do the right thing, to be on the right side of history, to demand peace, justice and security for Palestinians and Israelis alike – and the starting point must be a ceasefire, now.