'Compassion — and international law — must prevail'

Celebrities pen letter to Biden demanding ceasefire in Israel-Hamas war

Mandy Patinkin and Ilana Glazer among dozens bemoaning ‘lethal’ situation in Gaza; separate letter signed by 750 writers and artists condemns ‘escalating violence’ against Gazans

Cate Blanchett at the 76th international film festival, Cannes, southern France, Saturday, May 20, 2023. (Photo by Joel C Ryan/Invision/AP)
Cate Blanchett at the 76th international film festival, Cannes, southern France, Saturday, May 20, 2023. (Photo by Joel C Ryan/Invision/AP)

Fifty-eight A-list Hollywood celebrities including Cate Blanchett, Joaquin Phoenix, Florence Pugh and Ramy Youssef penned a letter to US President Joe Biden on Friday, urging him to call for a ceasefire in Israel’s war with Hamas.

Dozens of top-flight names from the world of entertainment, including Jewish personalities Mandy Patinkin, Ilana Glazer and Andrew Garfield, asked Biden to work to achieve an “immediate de-escalation and ceasefire in Gaza and Israel before another life is lost.”

“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,” said the letter, released by the organization Artists 4 Ceasefire.

“Saving lives is a moral imperative.”

Included in the letter was a statement from UNICEF spokesperson James Elder, who wrote that “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.

“The humanitarian situation has reached lethal lows, and yet all reports point to further attacks. Compassion — and international law — must prevail.”

This aerial view shows humanitarian aid trucks arriving at a storage facility in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip on October 21, 2023, after having crossed through the Rafah border from Egypt. (Belal Al Sabbagh/AFP)

Israel has vowed to destroy Hamas after the Islamist group launched a shock raid from the Gaza Strip on October 7, in which some 2,500 terrorists burst through the border into Israel by land, air and sea, killing some 1,400 people and taking over 210 hostages.

The vast majority of those killed as gunmen seized border communities were civilians — men, women, children and the elderly. Entire families were executed in their homes, and over 260 people were slaughtered at an outdoor festival, many amid horrific acts of brutality by the terrorists, in what Biden has highlighted as “the worst massacre of the Jewish people since the Holocaust.”

During the first stage of the war, Israeli bombers have leveled entire city blocks in Gaza in preparation for a ground invasion they say is coming soon. Israeli officials have stated that the offensive is aimed at destroying terror infrastructure, and that they are seeking to minimize civilian casualties.

The Hamas-run health ministry said more than 4,000 Palestinians, mostly civilians, have died in the onslaught. However, the figures issued by the terror group cannot be independently verified, and are believed to include its own terrorists and gunmen, as well as victims killed by the misfiring of the group’s own rockets directed at Israel.

Friday’s letter, which was also signed by Jon Stewart, singer Dua Lipa, Susan Sarandon and Channing Tatum, came a week after some 700 Hollywood figures signed an open letter condemning the “barbaric acts” committed by Hamas terrorists.

A separate letter signed by 750 writers and other artists from the UK, EU and North America published October 18 by the London Review of Books called for an “end to the violence and destruction in Palestine,” while leaving out any mention of Hamas.

Among the signatories was writer Sally Rooney, who faced heavy criticism in 2021 after declaring Israel to be an apartheid state.

“The deliberate killing of civilians is always an atrocity. It is a violation of international law and an outrage against the sanctity of human life,” read the letter.

“Neither Israel, the occupying power, nor the armed groups of the people under occupation, the Palestinians, can ever be justified in targeting defenceless people.”

The letter condemned the “unprecedented and indiscriminate violence that is still escalating against the 2.3 million Palestinians in Gaza,” and accused Western states of being complicit in Israel’s “grave crimes against humanity.”

While the letter mentions violence carried out against Israel by Hamas, it does not identify the group by name and avoids any mention of the at least 212 hostages currently being held in Gaza by the terrorist group.

The letter concludes by demanding an immediate ceasefire, “the unimpeded admission of humanitarian aid into Gaza,” and calls for an immediate end to all arms shipments and military funding to Israel.

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