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Group of Democrats urges Biden and Blinken to support a cease-fire in Gaza

The Israel Defense Forces have killed "over 11,078 Palestinians, nearly half of whom have been children," the 24 lawmakers wrote in a letter to the president and the secretary of state.
People mourn as they collect the bodies of Palestinians killed in Israeli raids, in Khan Yunis, Gaza
People mourn Wednesday in Khan Younis, Gaza, as they collect the bodies of Palestinians killed in Israeli raids.Ahmad Hasaballah / Getty Images

Two dozen Democratic lawmakers signed a letter Wednesday urging President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken to seek a cease-fire in Gaza. 

The letter — signed by Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Betty McCollum of Minnesota, Mark Pocan of Wisconsin and 21 others, many of whom are members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus — said that the lawmakers were concerned 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."

"We write urging clarity on your strategic objectives for achieving deescalation and stability in the region," the Democrats wrote. "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."

Their letter came as Israel expanded its ground offensive in Gaza following Hamas' attack on Oct. 7, with the country's military launching a raid on Al-Shifa, the Gaza Strip's main hospital, in what it has described as a "targeted operation" against Hamas.

More than 1.6 million people have been displaced in Gaza, and health officials there say more than 11,200 have been killed. Israel says 1,200 people were killed in the Hamas terrorist attack on Oct. 7, with 239 people still held hostage in Gaza.

In a new Reuters/Ipsos poll, conducted Oct. 12 and 13, about 68% of respondents said they agreed with the statement: "Israel should call a ceasefire and try to negotiate."

“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,” the Democratic lawmakers wrote in their letter. “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.”

They added: “We thank the President for calling for a humanitarian pause so that humanitarian aid may flow and diplomacy may take place. However, given the present lack of an apparent and clear strategic plan, we encourage a redoubling of efforts to achieve rapid de-escalation through a ceasefire and robust, regional engagement that includes international humanitarian organizations.”

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the Democrats’ letter.

On Tuesday, 400 employees of Biden’s own administration signed a similar letter, calling for the president to pursue a cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas war. 

McCollum said in a statement that “it has been deeply disturbing to see children continue to bear the awful toll of this war.”

According to a recent Associated Press-NORC survey, while nearly 70% of Democrats approved of Biden’s job performance overall, the number dropped to 50% when it comes to his handling of the conflict in Gaza.