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November 15, 2023

Pressley Joins Colleagues in Calling on Biden Admin. to Establish a Ceasefire, Protect Children in the Gaza Strip

Text of Letter (PDF)

WASHINGTON — Today, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) joined Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14), Mark Pocan (WI-2), Betty McCollum (MN-4) and 20 of their colleagues in sending a letter to President Biden, asking him to support a bilateral ceasefire in Gaza to protect the one million children living there.

“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 lawmakers wrote in the letter. “Further, we write urging clarity on your strategic objectives for achieving de-escalation and stability in the region.” 

As of November 15, 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 James McGovern, Mary Gay Scanlon, Rashida Tlaib, Cori Bush, Raúl Grijalva, Pramila Jayapal, Joaquin Castro, Delia Ramirez, Henry Johnson, Greg Casar, Jesús “Chuy” Garcia, Bonnie Watson Coleman, Nydia Velázquez, 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.”

A copy of the letter can be found here.

Rep. Pressley joined Congresswoman Haley Stevens (D-MI) and their colleagues on a resolution condemning Hamas’ brutal attack and hostage-taking, and demanding Hamas immediately release all hostages.

Rep. Pressley joined her colleagues in announcing a resolution urging the Biden Administration to call for an immediate de-escalation and ceasefire in Israel and Gaza, to send humanitarian aid and assistance to Gaza, and to save as many lives as possible. She later joined her colleagues and a multi-faith, multiracial coalition of faith leaders and organizers for a prayer and press conference to renew their calls for a ceasefire. Rep. Pressley also joined dozens of rabbis and Members of Congress for a press conference to renew calls for a ceasefire in Gaza.

Rep. Pressley joined Reps. Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), Mark Pocan (WI-02), Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), James P. McGovern (MA-02), and 50 colleagues on a letter condemning the terrorist attacks by Hamas on the people of Israel, calling for Israeli military operations to follow the rules of international humanitarian law, and continuing to work toward peace in the region.

Rep. Pressley joined Reps. Grace Meng (D-NY), Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY), and nearly 150 colleagues in urging the State Department to use all tools at its disposal help get Americans out of Israel and back home to the United States. She applauded the State Department for heeding her calls on October 12, 2023 and continues to press for the urgent evacuation of Americans in Gaza.

Rep. Pressley issued a statement following the safe evacuation of Massachusetts constituents Wafaa and Abood Okal and their one-year-old Yousef from Gaza.

Rep. Pressley delivered a floor speech in which she condemned antisemitism, Islamophobia, and all forms of hate on college campuses.