* Ceasefire would allow Hamas to regroup, says Blinken
+ Full text of their letter, and the list of signatories
A group of 55 prominent artistes and advocates in the American entertainment industry have signed an open letter to President Joe Biden, urging for a call for a ceasefire in Gaza and Israel.
The signatories include names such as Joaquin Phoenix, Cate Blanchett, Jon Stewart, Kristen Stewart, Susan Sarandon, Mahershala Ali, Riz Ahmed, Ramy Youssef and Quinta Brunson.
“We urge your administration, and all world leaders, to honor all of the lives in the Holy Land and call for and facilitate a ceasefire without delay – an end to the bombing of Gaza, and the safe release of hostages,” the letter reads.
The statement, distributed by the organization Artists 4 Ceasefire, also includes a comment from UNICEF spokesperson James Elder, emphasizing the devastation inflicted on the population of Gaza by ongoing Israeli air strikes and blockades on water and power.
“Children and families in Gaza have practically run out of food, water, electricity, medicine and safe access to hospitals, following days of air strikes and cuts to all supply routes,” Elder’s statement reads. “Gaza’s sole power plant ran out of fuel Wednesday afternoon, shutting down electricity, water and wastewater treatment. Most residents can no longer get drinking water from service providers or household water through pipelines… The humanitarian situation has reached lethal lows, and yet all reports point to further attacks. Compassion — and international law — must prevail.”
Another letter demanding a ceasefire in Gaza and opening for humanitarian aid in the region drew several significant signatories earlier this week. The statement, from Artists for Palestine UK, was signed by figures such as Tilda Swinton, Charles Dance, Steve Coogan, Miriam Margolyes, Michael Winterbottom, Mike Leigh and Asif Kapadia. The letter accused the British government of “not only tolerating war crimes but aiding and abetting them.”
The Palestinian death toll from the ongoing Israeli military offensive in the Gaza Strip has climbed to 9,227, the Health Ministry in the blockaded enclave said on Friday, November 3.
“The victims include 3,826 children and 2,405 women, while 23,516 other people were injured,” ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra told a news conference in Gaza City.
He said 2,100 people are still trapped under the rubble in Gaza, including 1,200 children.
“The Israeli attacks left 136 medics dead and 25 ambulances destroyed,” al-Qudra said.
“Sixteen massacres have been documented within the past hours, taking 196 victims, raising the total number of massacres committed by the occupation to 997,” he added.
He said Israeli forces have targeted more than 102 health care facilities in Gaza since Oct. 7, even though under the rules of war, such facilities should be exempt from attacks.
Nearly 10,600 people have been killed in the conflict, including 9,061 Palestinians and more than 1,538 Israelis.
Besides the large number of casualties and massive displacements of people, basic supplies are running low for the 2.3 million residents in Gaza due to the Israeli siege.
Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said an Israeli ceasefire in Gaza would allow Hamas to regroup and carry out further attacks.
But he added that Israel had to take “every possible measure” to prevent civilian casualties in the enclave.
Mr Blinken made the comments on Saturday, November 4, in Jordan after holding talks with Arab leaders, who want an immediate halt to the fighting.
They have accused Israel of committing war crimes.
“We don’t accept that it is a self-defence,” Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said at a news conference with Mr Blinken following the talks, which also involved Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt.
The US continues to support Israel’s right to defend itself against Hamas.
Mr Safadi described the conflict as a “raging war that is killing civilians, destroying their homes, their hospitals, their schools, their mosques and their churches.”
“It cannot be justified under any pretext and it will not bring Israel security, it will not bring the region peace.”
There have been concerns that the war could draw in other regional actors and lead to the destabilisation of the Middle East.
Read the full statement and the list of signatories below.
Dear President Biden,
We come together as artists and advocates, but most importantly as human beings witnessing the devastating loss of lives and unfolding horrors in Israel and Palestine.
We ask that, as President of the United States, you call for an immediate de-escalation and ceasefire in Gaza and Israel before another life is lost. More than 5,000 people have been killed in the last week and a half – a number any person of conscience knows is catastrophic. We believe all life is sacred, no matter faith or ethnicity and we condemn the killing of Palestinian and Israeli civilians.
We urge your administration, and all world leaders, to honor all of the lives in the Holy Land and call for and facilitate a ceasefire without delay – an end to the bombing of Gaza, and the safe release of hostages. Half of Gaza’s two million residents are children, and more than two thirds are refugees and their descendants being forced to flee their homes. Humanitarian aid must be allowed to reach them.
We believe that the United States can play a vital diplomatic role in ending the suffering and we are adding our voices to those from the US Congress, UNICEF, Doctors without Borders, The International Committee of The Red Cross, and so many others. Saving lives is a moral imperative. To echo UNICEF, “Compassion — and international law — must prevail.”
As of this writing more than 6,000 bombs have been dropped on Gaza in the last 12 days — resulting in one child being killed every 15 minutes.
“Children and families in Gaza have practically run out of food, water, electricity, medicine and safe access to hospitals, following days of air strikes and cuts to all supply routes. Gaza’s sole power plant ran out of fuel Wednesday afternoon, shutting down electricity, water and wastewater treatment. Most residents can no longer get drinking water from service providers or household water through pipelines…. The humanitarian situation has reached lethal lows, and yet all reports point to further attacks. Compassion — and international law — must prevail.” – UNICEF spokesperson James Elder
Beyond our pain and mourning for all of the people there and their loved ones around the world we are motivated by an unbending will to stand for our common humanity. We stand for freedom, justice, dignity and peace for all people – and a deep desire to stop more bloodshed.
We refuse to tell future generations the story of our silence, that we stood by and did nothing. As Emergency Relief Chief Martin Griffiths told UN News, “History is watching.”
Aria Mia Loberti
Fatima Farheen Mirza
Sources: Al Jazeera, BBC and Variety Magazine
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