Biden Staffers Hold White House Vigil Calling for Israel–Hamas Ceasefire

Caden Pearson
By Caden Pearson
December 14, 2023Executive Branch
Biden Staffers Hold White House Vigil Calling for Israel–Hamas Ceasefire
Former State Department official and activist Josh Paul (C), that resigned over the war between Israel and Hamas, speaks during a demonstration calling for a ceasefire amid the Hamas–Israel war, in front of the White House in Washington, on Dec. 13, 2023. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images)

A group of Biden administration staffers held a vigil outside the White House on Wednesday night, calling for a ceasefire in the Israel–Hamas conflict.

The vigil, organized by a self-described interfaith group of political appointees, administration staffers, and civil service career staff, featured a banner reading, “President Biden, your staff demands a ceasefire,” and what appeared to be candles arranged to spell out “ceasefire.”

The group stood in front of the White House, concealing their faces behind masks, glasses, hats, hoodies, regular scarves, and Palestinian keffiyeh scarves—a checkered black and white scarf that has become a symbol of the Palestinian cause.

Their demands included that President Joe Biden and Cabinet members demand a ceasefire and deescalation of the conflict; the release of hostages, though their statement did not mention Hamas; the “restoration of water, fuel, electricity,” and other services; and humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip.

“The American people and respected institutions like the United Nations are pleading for a ceasefire, but this administration has yet to listen,” reads their statement. “We demand President Biden and Members of the Cabinet to speak up: call for a permanent ceasefire, a release of all hostages, and an immediate de-escalation now.”

Josh Paul, a former State Department official who resigned in mid-October owing to his opposition to the administration’s handling of the conflict, delivered a statement on behalf of the group that gathered in front of the White House. The statement was shared by an NBC senior White House correspondent on X.

Mr. Paul expressed the group’s horror at both the Hamas terror group’s Oct. 7 rampage in southern Israel and at “the disproportionate response by the Israeli government.” They accused the Israeli military of “indiscriminately” killing “thousands of innocent Palestinian civilians in Gaza and displacing over a million more.”

Over 800 members of the group have signed a letter to the president, vice president, and Cabinet members demanding a ceasefire and deescalation.

More than 18,000 civilians have been killed during Israel’s ongoing military campaign, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry, which does not distinguish between civilians and Hamas terrorists. Israel’s conflict is aimed at destroying Hamas following its Oct. 7 attack that killed more than 1,200 Israelis and saw 240 people taken hostage, 100 of whom were released during a seven-day truce.

“The temporary ceasefire ended 13 days ago, and we have been horrified to see the full resumption of killings, displacement, and bombardment of Palestinian civilians in Gaza. A temporary pause to this violence was never enough. We must move with urgency to save as many lives as possible and achieve an immediate, permanent ceasefire agreement and the return of all hostages,” their statement reads.

The group’s action comes a day after the United Nations General Assembly voted for a resolution urging a ceasefire after U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres invoked Article 99 of the U.N. Charter, reserved for crises that threaten international peace and security, to force the Security Council to address the Israel–Hamas conflict.

Before the U.N. General Assembly’s vote, Israeli U.N. Ambassador Gilad Erdan stressed the country’s stance that a ceasefire is only possible if Hamas releases all of the 240 hostages captured during its Oct. 7 attack.

“Tell Hamas to put down their arms, turn themselves in, and return our hostages,” Mr. Erdan said on the floor of the United Nations on Tuesday. “This will bring a complete ceasefire that will last forever.”

A ceasefire before this condition is met would only mean “the survival of Hamas,” according to Mr. Erdan, who stressed that the terror group is “committed to the annihilation of Israel and Jews.”

“Hamas raped women, committed heinous acts of sexual violence, took women and girls hostage, and is not only refusing to release them but is also refusing the Red Cross’s access to them,” Mr. Erdan said.

“There are no war crimes more heinous than the atrocities Hamas committed, and those that support this resolution are giving the terrorists a free pass,” he added.

From The Epoch Times

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