On Wednesday, Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14), Mark Pocan (WI-2), and Betty McCollum (MN-4) led 21 Members of Congress in sending a letter to President Biden, asking him to support a bilateral ceasefire in Gaza, in order to protect the one million children living there. The full letter is available here.
The letter reads in part, “We write to you to express deep concern about the intensifying war in Gaza, particularly grave violations against children, and our fear that without an immediate cessation of hostilities and the establishment of a robust bilateral ceasefire, this war will lead to a further loss of civilian life and risk dragging the United States into dangerous and unwise conflict with armed groups across the Middle East. Further, we write urging clarity on your strategic objectives for achieving de-escalation and stability in the region.”
More than 4,500 children have been killed in the Gaza Strip and another 7,695 children have sustained injuries. Additionally, at least 1,750 children have been reported missing and are presumed to be dead or trapped under rubble. Several schools in Gaza have been bombed as part of Israeli air strikes and more than half of hospitals in the Gaza Strip have completely shut down.
The letter is co-signed by Representatives Rashida Tlaib, Cori Bush, James McGovern, Mary Gay Scanlon, Raúl Grijalva, Pramila Jayapal, Joaquin Castro, Delia Ramirez, Henry Johnson, Greg Casar, Jesús “Chuy” Garcia, Bonnie Watson Coleman, Nydia Velázquez, Ayanna Pressley, Jonathan Jackson, Barbara Lee, André Carson, Jamaal Bowman, Summer Lee, Veronica Escobar, and Ilhan Omar.
The letter is endorsed by MoveOn, Amnesty International, Demand Progress, Center for International Policy, Center for Jewish Nonviolence, Churches for Middle East Peace, CIVIC, Common Defense, Friends Committee for National Legislation (FCNL), MADRE, Oxfam America, Win Without War, POMED, Working Families Party, Action Corps, Adalah Justice Project, American Friends Service Committee, Americans Justice In Palestine, Arab American Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), Democracy for Arab World Now, IfNotNow, Institute for Policy Studies New Internationalism Project, Jewish Voice for Peace Action, Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, Migrant Roots Media, National Iranian American Council Action, Pax Christi Metro DC-Baltimore, Pax Christi USA, Peace Action, Peace Action Montgomery, The Duty Legacy, US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, Women for Weapons Trade Transparency and the Yemeni Alliance Committee. Quotes from those organizations follow.
“It’s welcome news that Representatives Ocasio-Cortez, Pocan, and McCollum, along with dozens of their House colleagues, are urging the Biden Administration to establish an immediate bilateral ceasefire in Israel-Palestine and asking for greater humanitarian access in all parts of Gaza,” said Hassan El-Tayyab, legislative director for Middle East policy at FCNL. “It’s critical that others follow their lead and call for a ceasefire to de-escalate this explosion of violence that has already led to the deaths of at least 11,000 civilians, including nearly 5,000 children. Every major humanitarian organization working in Gaza is pleading with the international community to reach an immediate ceasefire and open up aid access so they can continue their vital work in the Gaza Strip. It’s critical that Congress and the Administration listen before more innocent lives are lost.”
“The scale of humanitarian need in Gaza is huge – and growing exponentially by the day. Yet, right now, aid is all but impossible to deliver as bombs continue to fall. 2.2 million people are living under siege, denied safe shelter, food, water and other essentials – all while the fuel needed to deliver aid has run out,” said Scott Paul, Associate Director of Peace & Security at Oxfam America.“Israel is entitled to protect its people, but it must do so while complying with international humanitarian law. Civilians in Israel and Gaza have been paying the price for political failure and must be protected. To save lives now and in the future, we need an urgent ceasefire, an end to the siege, safe humanitarian access, and the return of all hostages.”
“This joint effort led by Representatives Ocasio-Cortez, McCollum, and Pocan urging President Biden to establish a robust bilateral ceasefire comes at a critical moment. More and more Palestinian civilians are losing their lives each day amid Israeli military operations and the unfolding of an unprecedented, man-made humanitarian catastrophe in the occupied Gaza Strip,” said Elizabeth Rghebi, Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International USA. “An immediate ceasefire by all parties to the conflict is the only way to prevent further loss of life, to deliver humanitarian aid to those in desperate need, and to provide an opportunity to secure the safe release of hostages.”
“We welcome this joint effort led by Representatives Ocasio-Cortez, McCollum, and Pocan calling for an urgent ceasefire to prevent further civilian deaths and deliver life-saving humanitarian aid,” said Annie Shiel, US Advocacy Director at Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC). “Amid continued bombardment and ground fighting, civilians have virtually run out of options to seek safe refuge. The situation for civilians in Gaza — and especially children — is catastrophic. A ceasefire is needed immediately.”
“Over the last five weeks, Israeli airstrikes and siege have killed at least 4,609 Palestinian children, including three premature babies in Al-Shifa Hospital who had to be taken from incubators due to lack of electricity,” said Beth Miller, Political Director at Jewish Voice for Peace Action. “More children are still trapped under the rubble of buildings destroyed in Israeli bombings. No child should ever have to face the overwhelming scale and horror of the violence that Palestinian children in Gaza are experiencing. Representatives Ocasio-Cortez, McCollum, and Pocan, are pushing forward a critical demand for Palestinian children’s life to be valued and protected, and for the Biden administration to finally put an end to this nightmare by calling for a ceasefire now.”
“The urgent need for a ceasefire resonates deeply with the majority of the American public as we witness the devastating toll of over 11,000 Palestinian lives taken by Israel’s war crimes in Gaza and across occupied Palestine. Israel’s unhinged airstrike campaign and war crime of collective punishment have created a dire humanitarian crisis for the approximately 2.3 million Palestinians in Gaza,” said Dr. Osama Abu Irshaid, Executive Director at Americans for Justice in Palestine Action. “We steadfastly oppose the ongoing genocide and remain unwavering in our call for an immediate ceasefire. As Israel intensifies its military actions, Congress and the Biden Administration must reevaluate U.S. regional policies to ensure security and justice. The status quo has proven to be unsustainable, and Gaza cannot wait any longer for a ceasefire and entry of humanitarian aid.”