Hollywood stars urge Biden to press for ceasefire in Israel and Gaza

Bassem Yousef, John Stewart, Susan Sarandon and others sign on to letter demanding aid and de-escalation

Jessica Chastain is one of about 60 celebrities who signed a letter urging US President Joe Biden to call for a ceasefire in Israel and Gaza. AFP
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Dozens of actors and artists in Hollywood published a letter addressed to US President Joe Biden on Friday, urging him to call for a ceasefire in Israel and Gaza.

John Stewart, Joaquin Phoenix, Mark Ruffalo, Ramy Youssef, Riz Ahmed, Bassem Yousef, Kristen Stewart and Jessica Chastain were among the many who signed on to the letter posted on a website titled Artists4Ceasefire.

“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,” the statement began.

“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.”

Palestinian militant group Hamas attacked Israel on October 7, killing 1,400 people and taking about 200 hostages.

Since then, Israel has bombed Gaza and killed more than 4,100 Palestinians, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.

“We urge your administration, and all world leaders, to honour 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 celebrities wrote.

“We refuse to tell future generations the story of our silence, that we stood by and did nothing. As (UN) Emergency Relief Chief Martin Griffiths told UN News, 'History is watching'", they said in the letter, quoting Mr Griffiths on Monday.

The nearly 60 signatories also included Susan Sarandon, Quinta Brunson, Fatima Farheen Mirza, Hend Sabry, Cate Blanchett, America Ferrera, Rosario Dawson, Channing Tatum and Mahershala Ali, among others.

“Humanitarian aid must be allowed to reach them (Gazans),” the letter said.

Mr Biden on Friday said he believed that lorries carrying aid will get through to Gaza in the next 24 to 48 hours.

Israel's bombardment of Gaza, a 45km-long enclave, has created dire conditions for the 2.3 million people living there under a blockade by Israel and Egypt since Hamas took control in 2007.

Updated: October 21, 2023, 5:02 AM