"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," a letter from 24 lawmakers to Biden said.
The letter writers emphasized in particular how Israel's ongoing bombardment has impacted Gaza's 1 million children. The attack has killed 4,506 children and injured at least 7,695, while at least 1,755 are missing, most likely trapped beneath rubble. Israeli soldiers and settlers have also killed at least 51 children in the West Bank in the last 39 days.
"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," the representatives 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."
"We write to you to express deep concern about the intensifying war in Gaza, particularly grave violations against children."
The letter adds to the number of lawmakers who have called for a cease-fire, raising the total to 31. The new names are Pocan (D-Wis.), Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Pa.), Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), and Henry Johnson (D-Ga.)
They were joined by fellow Democratic Reps. Rashida Tlaib (Mich.), Cori Bush (Mo.), James McGovern (Mass.), Pramila Jayapal (Wash.), Joaquin Castro (Texas), Delia Ramirez (Ill.), Greg Casar (Texas), Jesús "Chuy" Garcia (Ill.), Bonnie Watson Coleman (N.J.), Nydia Velázquez (N.Y.), Ayanna Pressley (Mass.), Jonathan Jackson (Ill.), Barbara Lee (Calif.), André Carson (Ind.), Jamaal Bowman (N.Y.), Summer Lee (Pa.), Veronica Escobar (Texas), and Ilhan Omar (Minn.).
The new names mean that 5.8% of Congress now backs a cease-fire,The Intercept's Prem Thakker pointed out. The increase comes the same day as a Reuters/Ipsos poll finding that 68% of U.S. respondents believe Israel should negotiate a cease-fire.
The letter writers condemned Hamas' October 7 attack on Israel, which killed at least 1,200 people, including 31 children. However, they also expressed "dire concerns" about Israel's response, which has killed more than 11,000 total in Gaza. In addition to death and injury from airstrikes, the attack and siege have also put Gaza's children in particular at risk from lack of food, water, and fuel. They noted that the bombardment had impacted 285 educational institutions, among them at least 29 U.N. schools.
"No child should ever have to face the overwhelming scale and horror of the violence that Palestinian children in Gaza are experiencing."
"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 cease-fire, 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 said.
The representatives also looked to the future beyond an immediate cease-fire.
"Recognizing that there is no military solution that will end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, we urge your administration to obtain clarity on the specific strategic objectives of a large-scale ground invasion, their achievability, what may come after Hamas, the risks to hostages and civilians in the region, the national security implications of a multi-front war in the Middle East, and the potential threats to American citizens in the region," they said.
The letter was also endorsed by more than 30 peace, human rights, and humanitarian groups including Amnesty International, IfNotNow, Jewish Voice for Peace Action, U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights, and the American Friends Service Committee.
"No child should ever have to face the overwhelming scale and horror of the violence that Palestinian children in Gaza are experiencing," Beth Miller, the political director at Jewish Voice for Peace Action, said in a statement. "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 cease-fire now."
Elizabeth Rghebi, advocacy director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International USA, said the letter came 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," Rghebi said. "An immediate cease-fire 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."