On Sunday, Nov. 19, Rep. Judy Chu (CA-28) released a statement calling for the immediate release of all hostages captured by Hamas and a negotiated cessation in hostilities or ceasefire that will end the loss of innocent lives in Gaza.
By News Desk
Following the horrific October 7 terrorist attack on Israel by Hamas that killed more than 1,200 people, I have strongly supported Israel’s right to defend itself, seek the release of the hostages, and finally end Hamas’s control of Gaza. Last week, I met with families of some of the more than 200 hostages, including American citizens, held in Gaza. I heard the painful stories of their relatives, including children like three-year-old Abigail Mor Idan, who was kidnapped after watching her father die while trying to protect her and remains in unimaginable captivity. This meeting reaffirmed how essential it is that we bring every hostage home safely.
The war could end today if Hamas would release the hostages and end its inhumane rule of Gaza, by which it deliberately puts civilians in harm’s way in service of its stated goal to annihilate Israel and the Jewish people. But the ongoing conflict has taken an unacceptable and heartbreaking toll on Palestinian civilians in Gaza, with over 11,000 lives lost, nearly half of whom were innocent children. Palestinians have been told to head south while Israeli forces target Hamas in northern Gaza. But I am disturbed by reports that Israeli military operations will expand into southern Gaza, leaving Palestinians with nowhere to go. The sickest and most vulnerable in Gaza’s hospitals cannot evacuate. Meanwhile, I have constituents whose whole family are in Gaza, who don’t know if they are the next to lose their lives to bombs.
I have supported President Biden’s and Secretary of State Blinken’s efforts to secure temporary, humanitarian pauses Israel’s military operations to ensure that civilians can get to safety and humanitarian aid can enter Gaza. I have also been outspoken in calling for Israel to respect international law – which means making every effort possible to avoid civilian casualties – and to guarantee the delivery of fuel, food, water, medical supplies, and other life-saving necessities.
However, despite humanitarian pauses, the human toll in Gaza has been overwhelming and threatens to set back the long-term hopes of a durable peace for Israel, Palestine, and the entire region. A military response that tolerates such massive levels of civilian casualties, without a defined objective, is devastating and unsustainable. Given the reports of backchannel negotiations to release hostages, it is time for the United States to work with Israel and regional partners to find a way to find a diplomatic, negotiated path forward that will immediately end the violence. That is why I support a bilateral cessation of hostilities, a bilateral ceasefire, that includes the release of every hostage, a surge of humanitarian assistance, and new leadership for the Palestinian people in Gaza.
We must recognize that Hamas has proven that it will not respect a ceasefire and will only use that time to prepare for more violence and sabotage prospects for peace. That is why the path forward must include removing Hamas from control of Gaza and working with the Palestinian people both in Gaza and in the West Bank to support new political leadership that will work toward the creation of a peaceful, sovereign Palestinian state that respects Israel’s right to exist safely. Likewise, Israel must empower new leadership that will recommit to pursuing a two-state solution, which means respecting Palestinian self-determination in Gaza and the West Bank.”
[This article has been updated to omit the name of a constituent for their safety. Nov. 20, 9:00 am]
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