Aid without ceasefire in Gaza ‘illogical and impossible,’ protesters say

New Mexicans accuse senators of sidestepping calls to end violence

By: - October 31, 2023 5:05 am

Protesters with the Southwest Coalition for Palestine and Santa Feans for Justice in Palestine deliver a letter calling for a ceasefire in Gaza to Edward Tabet-Cuberos, state director for Sen. Martin Heinrich’s office, on Oct. 23. (Photo by Austin Fisher / Source NM)

A group of New Mexicans arrested last week while protesting the United States’ support for Israel’s bombing campaign on the Gaza Strip told New Mexico’s senators on Monday that without a full ceasefire, the humanitarian crisis there will only get worse.

Gaza’s health ministry has recorded more than 8,300 Palestinians killed by Israeli airstrikes since Oct. 7, including more than 3,000 children. More than 21,000 Palestinians in Gaza have been wounded so far.

Rep. Melanie Stansbury on Friday called for a “humanitarian pause” in the conflict. Sen. Martin Heinrich followed with a similar statement on Saturday.

No American political leader has defined how long such a pause would last, or which parts of Gaza it would cover. Source NM on Friday asked Stansbury and Heinrich to specify what they mean, but they have not yet responded.

Spokespeople for Rep. Gabe Vasquez and Rep. Teresa Leger Fernandez have so far not responded to previous written requests for comment on calls for a ceasefire by congressional staffers.

52,000 pregnant people and more than 30,000 babies under 6 months of age are drinking brackish or contaminated water in Gaza, according to an internal U.S. State Department assessment published by Israel’s newspaper of record on Sunday.

Heinrich and New Mexico’s other senator, Ben Ray Luján on Friday “encouraged the Biden administration to work with Israel, Egypt and the United Nations to ship fuel into Gaza “where it can be used immediately to prevent the deaths of innocent civilians.”

“We condemn Hamas’ horrific terrorist attacks against Israel, for which Israel must hold Hamas accountable,” the senators said. “In the course of that endeavor, every effort must be made to protect innocent civilians.”

But local peace advocates implied that senators’ language is weak and would result in a Band-Aid approach. 

After an hourslong sit-in on Oct. 23 at the senators’ field offices in Albuquerque, police arrested nine demonstrators.

That group, now calling themselves the “Ceasefire 9,” issued a statement Monday pointing out the senators’ call for aid makes no mention of the siege on Gaza, the thousands of lives already lost, and the intensifying violence against Palestinians in the West Bank.

“Our New Mexico representatives have an obligation to support their constituents’ demands and stand on the right side of history by endorsing a full ceasefire immediately,” the Ceasefire 9 wrote.

“While we appreciate that the Senators are aware that Israeli bombardment is causing a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, aid without a ceasefire is an illogical and impossible suggestion,” they wrote. “Fuel for hospitals to treat those injured because of the constant bombardment? A call to keep babies alive while nearly 3,000 Palestinian children have been killed? Fuel for generators to pump clean water so civilians can be hydrated when they are killed in airstrikes?”

The group added that they refuse the senators’ “attempt at sidestepping the real issue.”

More than 1,000 people joined a protest led by Palestinian young people in Albuquerque calling for a ceasefire. (Photo courtesy of D’Ali Roberts / Southwest Coalition For Palestine)

The United Nations General Assembly on Friday passed a nonbinding resolution calling for a ceasefire by a vote of 120-14. In the U.S., 66% of American voters and 80% of Democrats are in favor of a ceasefire.

A representative for families of more than 220 hostages being held in Gaza urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday to stop the airstrikes that could harm their relatives.

That same day, more than 1,000 people joined a protest led by Palestinian young people in Albuquerque calling for a ceasefire. According to the event’s organizers, it was the largest demonstration in New Mexico since Oct. 7.

“The current bombing campaign of Gazan people, as well as the decades-long occupation is funded by U.S. tax dollars and supported almost unilaterally by U.S. politicians, including those in our own state,” said Southwest Coalition for Palestine Chair Samia Assed. “We urge people and political leaders to support a ceasefire and stop the killing of innocent Gazans.”


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Austin Fisher
Austin Fisher

Austin Fisher is a journalist based in Santa Fe. He has worked for newspapers in New Mexico and his home state of Kansas, including the Topeka Capital-Journal, the Garden City Telegram, the Rio Grande SUN and the Santa Fe Reporter. Since starting a full-time career in reporting in 2015, he’s aimed to use journalism to lift up voices that typically go unheard in public debates around economic inequality, policing and environmental racism.