VCHR Calls for Ceasefire and Humanitarian Aid for Gaza,
and Freedom and Equal Rights for All

October 16, 2023 The Virginia Coalition for Human Rights (VCHR) calls for all elected Virginia officials, especially our US Senators and Congressmen, to demand an immediate end to the genocidal indiscriminate Israeli bombardment and siege of Gaza and demand the establishment of a humanitarian aid corridor in the region. Since October 7, Israel has killed at least 2,750 Palestinians [1], including over 1,000 children [2], and is killing more by the hour; and has also cut off water, food, electricity, medicine, and fuel to the region. Israel has also killed at least 7 journalists, 11 UNRWA employees, and medics and humanitarian workers from the international Red Cross and Red Crescent, in just the first 4 days of its current attack on Gaza [3]. Hospitals in Gaza are overwhelmed, as fuel supplies needed to run generators have been cut off, resulting in a power blackout across the region. Soon, medical equipment will no longer be functional, which includes incubators for babies and equipment in the already overwhelmed ICU’s. In addition to collective punishment, which is a war crime under international law [4], Israel has also been using internationally banned white phosphorus bombs on the captive people of the Gaza Strip and in Lebanon this week [5].

VCHR mourns the killing of all innocent civilians. We also strongly object to the use of taxpayer money and American-made weapons to facilitate the destruction of Gaza and the killing of its civilians. The United States should not support the indiscriminate bombing of the 2.3 million civilians, half of which are children, living in the densely populated Gaza Strip from which there is no escape. Western governments, including the United States, have a responsibility to call for a ceasefire and the de-escalation of the crisis, with a view to reviving serious efforts to resolve the underlying displacement and destruction of the Palestinian people and culture. Furthermore, the mainstream Western media, especially that in the US, has a responsibility to report accurately and completely what is taking place. It must diligently investigate reports from the conflict instead of blindly repeating Israeli misinformation and propaganda [6]. Claims of “beheaded babies” and rape by Hamas fighters are outright lies, reminiscent of similar lies that were used to goad the US into the Iraq war in 1990 [7]. Furthermore, the repetition of dehumanizing anti-Palestinian Israeli rhetoric against Palestinians by US mainstream media and politicians, such as calling Palestinians “animals” and calling for Gaza to be “leveled,” amounts to aiding and abetting Israel’s current criminal and genocidal actions [8].

The current crisis is unfolding within the context of the brutal expulsion of Palestinians from their homeland in 1948, over 75 years of settler colonialism and ethnic cleansing, 50 years of military occupation, and 16 years of an illegal draconian economic blockade, all of which have caused great suffering and loss of life to the Palestinian people.

The people living in Gaza, three-quarters of whom are refugees from 1948, have been subject for 16 years to one of the most inhumane living situations in the world, with inadequate food supplies, polluted water, insufficient medicines and medical supplies, massive unemployment, severely restricted access to building materials, and draconian travel restrictions. The current bombardment is the most brutal of the multiple Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip since 2008.

Throughout the occupied territories, Israeli attacks against Palestinians are on the rise. In Jerusalem, extremist Israeli settlers threaten the al-Aqsa Mosque compound daily; throughout the West Bank, they enter Palestinian areas at will, protected by the Israeli army, and wreak havoc on Palestinian towns and destroy Palestinian property. The pogroms in Huwwara [9,10] and Turmus Ayya [11,12,13] are two examples, but there are many others. Ethnic cleansing is ongoing in Masafer Yatta and Sheikh Jarrah. Israeli prisons hold more than 5,000 Palestinian political prisoners, including hundreds of children. Many of these prisoners have not been charged or convicted of crimes but they are nevertheless held indefinitely.

In this context, it should surprise no one that Gaza militants would attempt to break the Israeli grip around their necks and demand an end to the blockade of Gaza and a release of prisoners. The increasingly cruel conditions that have been forced upon the Palestinian people in the last seventy-five years would be unacceptable to anyone, and the world community has failed in its responsibility to resolve this crisis.

We urge our elected leaders in Congress and in the executive branch to play a constructive role. Blind support of an Israeli government bent on ridding the region of Palestinians, and delivering weapons that Israel is using against millions of civilians in the Gaza Strip, does nothing to help [14]. Instead of supporting more violence and destruction, the administration and the Congress should work urgently to seek safety for the millions of civilians enduring an excessively violent Israeli bombing campaign in the Gaza Strip and escalated military and settler violence in the West Bank, including the safety of thousands of Palestinian Americans and their families trapped in the Gaza Strip and in the West Bank and East Jerusalem [15]. This is a very dangerous situation which has already started spreading beyond Gaza, as Israel has already also bombed Lebanon and Syria over the last week, and our elected officials have a responsibility to call for an immediate ceasefire on all sides before more civilians and children are killed [16]. Additionally, our elected officials should also condemn and oppose anti-Palestinian, anti-Arab and anti-Muslim hate speech and targeting in the public sphere and by government agencies, such as the FBI [17]. The vitriolic hate speech that is propagated by apartheid Israel and its advocates, had been parroted by too many prominent American politicians, and has very predictably resulted in hate crimes and intimidation against Arab, Muslim, and Palestinian Americans including a stabbing attack against a mother and child and the resulting murder of 6-year-old Wadea Al-Fayoume in Plainfield, Illinois [18].

VCHR calls on all members of Congress, including all the Representatives from Virginia, to co-sponsor and vote to pass the Ceasefire NOW resolution led by Representatives Cori Bush and Rashida Tlaib [19]. The current violence must end immediately and the underlying refusal to grant the Palestinian people a homeland resolved, so that Israelis and Palestinians can live in peace and dignity with justice and equal rights for all. We strongly urge our elected officials to work vigorously to end the siege and military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip immediately, to end and prohibit all forms of apartheid and ethnic cleansing, and to grant full equal rights to all Palestinians, including the right of return of all refugees, and the release of all political prisoners. We advocate for the involvement of truly neutral third- party mediators, such as the United Nations, to finally make progress toward achieving this goal. Only through achieving justice, freedom, and equal rights for all the people between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea can we then also ensure peace and safety for all the people between the river and the sea.

The Virginia Coalition for Human Rights (VCHR) is a broadly based coalition that advocates for Palestinian human rights. We support and defend universal human rights, equity, free speech (including the right to boycott) and academic freedom. We believe that the attainment of human rights, equal rights, and civil rights requires an open and free debate, and we object to any efforts to curtail or forestall such debate by placing limits on free speech or academic freedom. We oppose all types of racism, oppression, and violations of international law wherever they occur; and we also oppose hate speech and any type of discrimination based on race, religion, ethnicity, or national origin, wherever it may occur, domestically or abroad. We celebrate our diversity and strongly oppose any manifestation of racism against anyone.


  1. Gaza health ministry: 2,750 Palestinians killed, 9,700 wounded in Israeli strikes on Gaza since Oct 7 | Reuters

  2. One Palestinian child in Gaza killed every 15 minutes by Israeli forces | Defense for Children Palestine (

  3. Eleven workers with UN refugee agency, five IFRC members killed in Gaza | Reuters

  4. Israel Responds to Hamas Crimes by Ordering Mass War Crimes in Gaza (



  7. When contemplating war, beware of babies in incubators –

  8. The language being used to describe Palestinians is genocidal | Chris McGreal | The Guardian

  9. Huwara: The settler attack on this West Bank town was called a ‘pogrom’ by Israel’s military. Videos show soldiers did little to stop it | CNN

  10. “A Closed, Burnt Huwara”: How Israeli Settlers Launched A Pogrom | The Nation

  11. Armed Israeli settlers rampage through Palestinian town in revenge attack | Palestinian territories | The Guardian

  12. As Violence Escalates, Israel Doubles Down on Settlements | Time

  13. Why these pogroms continue (


  15. U.S. Estimates Up to 600 Americans in Gaza (

  16. Diplomats Race to Ease Crisis as Israel Plans Gaza Invasion: Live News – The New York Times (

  17. FBI Targets Muslims and Palestinians in Wake of Hamas Attack (

  18. Muslim boy stabbed to death in Gaza war-linked attack: DOJ opens hate crimes probe (

  19. Reps. Bush, Tlaib, Carson, Lee, Ramirez Lead Colleagues in Call for Immediate Ceasefire (