Over A Dozen Lawmakers Call For Ceasefire Between Israel And Hamas In New Bill

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More than a dozen U.S. lawmakers introduced a House resolution Monday that calls for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, as the death toll in the region continues to climb and human rights groups warn of ethnic cleansing in Gaza.

In the resolution submitted by Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.), the 13 members of Congress urged the White House to immediately call for and help facilitate deescalation and a ceasefire. The bill is the first congressional resolution that recognizes the loss of all civilian lives since Oct. 7, when Hamas militants launched an attack on Israel, killing hundreds of people, and Israel retaliated with a massive bombardment of Gaza.

“The United States bears a unique responsibility to exhaust every diplomatic tool at our disposal to prevent mass atrocities and save lives,” Bush said. “We can’t bomb our way to peace, equality and freedom. With thousands of lives lost and millions more at stake, we need a ceasefire now.”

In addition to a ceasefire, the resolution calls for immediate humanitarian assistance to Gaza, a blockaded territory that Israel has cut off from food, water, medicine and electricity. On Monday, the commissioner of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency said that more than a dozen relief workers have been killed in Gaza, and the remaining workers could no longer operate due to a lack of basic necessities.

In addition to Bush, the resolution was introduced by Democratic Reps. Rashida Tlaib (Mich.), André Carson (Ind.), Delia Ramirez (Ill.) and Summer Lee (Pa.). Democrats who are also original co-sponsors include Reps. Jamaal Bowman (N.Y.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (Minn.), Ayanna Pressley (Mass.), Jonathan Jackson (Ill.), Bonnie Watson Coleman (N.J.), Nydia Velázquez (N.Y.) and Chuy Garcia (Ill.).

After Hamas’ attack, which resulted in 1,400 people dead and more than 100 held captive, President Joe Biden announced that the U.S. would give its unwavering support to Israel, including military assistance and potentially billions of dollars in additional aid. The president is set to travel to Israel this week as the violence threatens to expand into a larger regional conflict, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Tuesday.

But despite Biden’s assurance that Israel will follow the laws of war, the U.S. ally has been continuously attacking civilians, homes and sanctuary buildings in Gaza ― leaving more than 3,000 Palestinians dead, about a third of them children. The Israeli military is preparing for a ground invasion of the enclave, and has targeted civilians who are fleeing under Israel’s own evacuation orders.

Before the ceasefire bill, internal emails obtained by HuffPost revealed that the State Department had been discouraging diplomats working on Middle East issues from publicly saying anything that suggests the U.S. wants to reduce the violence in the region. High-level officials reportedly did not want press materials to include any of the following three phrases: “de-escalation/ceasefire,” “end to violence/bloodshed” and “restoring calm.”

Congress is currently preparing to vote on a separate resolution sponsored by House foreign affairs committee Chair Michael McCaul (R-Texas) and ranking member Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.). That bill calls on Hamas militants to cease fire, but it pledges continued support for Israel’s military response that human rights groups say amounts to war crimes, ethnic cleansing and genocide. The resolution makes no mention of Palestinian civilian casualties or the escalating humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

“The answer to violence is not more violence. The answer is not military response and more killing of innocent children and women,” Carson said in a statement. “Palestinians are already surrounded by long-term military blockades ― they have literally nowhere to go.”

On Monday, Blinken said he secured an agreement with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss creating a pathway to deliver humanitarian aid to Palestinians in Gaza. But as of Tuesday, there was not yet a deal in place.

Netanyahu has meanwhile escalated the dehumanizing language that Israeli officials have used to describe Palestinians. On Monday, he said in a now-deleted post on X, the former Twitter, that the violence is “a struggle between the children of light and the children of darkness, between humanity and the law of the jungle.”

The next day, a hospital in Gaza City was bombed. Hamas said Israel was responsible, while Israeli officials said the explosion was due to an errant rocket fired by Palestinian militants.

“President Biden must also share in the accountability for this crime after giving Israel the green light to attack civilians in Gaza,” CAIR national executive director Nihad Awad said in reference to the hospital bombing. “This slaughter is taking place with American weapons and U.S. taxpayer dollars.”