Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., is leading renewed calls for President Biden to support a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas over the ‘grave violations’ being committed against children in the war.
‘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,’ the progressive lawmaker wrote.
Ocasio-Cortez and 23 other progressives wrote to Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday, asking for details on the U.S. plan to de-escalate tension in the region.
They cited figures from both Israel and the Hamas-run Ministry of Health in Gaza about how many children have been killed or abducted since Hamas militants launched a surprise attack on southern Israel on Oct. 7, killing hundreds of civilians.
Israel has responded by bombarding Gaza with rocket fire and a ground invasion.
‘We reaffirm our unequivocal condemnation of the Hamas attacks on Israel that took place on October 7th, in which Hamas killed over 1,200 Israelis and foreign nationals, and captured over 200 hostages, who were subsequently taken to Gaza,’ the Democrats wrote.
‘While exact figures have not yet been released, Israeli authorities so far have confirmed the identity of 846 civilians killed, including 31 children, and at least 20 children who have been abducted by Palestinian armed groups.
‘We also share dire concerns with the ongoing Israeli response, in which the Israeli Defense Forces have killed over 11,078 Palestinians, nearly half of whom have been children.’
Among the signatories are Reps. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich.; Cori Bush, D-Mo.; Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash.; Ilhan Omar, D-Minn.; Jamaal Bowman, D-N.Y.; and Jim McGovern, D-Mass.
‘We are profoundly shocked by the grave violations of children’s rights in the context of armed conflict in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory,’ they wrote. ‘International norms require that all parties to an armed conflict protect children and prevent the commission of grave violations against them, including killing and maiming, attacks on schools and hospitals, recruitment and use of children, abduction of children, and denial of humanitarian access.’
They thanked Biden for pushing for an expansion of humanitarian aid to Gaza, though argued it had ‘limited impact on the ground so far,’ while criticizing Israel for its response to the Oct. 7 attack.
‘In addition to the threat of widespread Israeli airstrikes on residential buildings and civilian infrastructure, these children face further imminent threats due to Israeli government restrictions on food, water, fuel, and other humanitarian assistance being able to reach these children and their families,’ they wrote of young people in Gaza.
The letter concluded, ‘We understand that the Administration has serious concerns regarding the objectives and consequences of a large-scale ground offensive, and we urge you to press this case directly.’