California Legislative Jewish Caucus Urges President Biden to Continue to Make Safe Release of Hostages and Red Cross Access a Top Priority

Monday, December 11, 2023

SACRAMENTO – Today, the California Legislative Jewish Caucus released a letter thanking President Biden for his efforts on behalf of those being held hostage by Hamas in Gaza and requesting that he continue to do everything possible to ensure that all those in captivity are safely released as quickly as possible. The Jewish Caucus also asked the President to ensure Red Cross access to the hostages to ascertain their health condition, in light of widespread reports of physical and sexual abuse. The California Jewish Legislative Caucus is co-chaired by Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) and Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel (D-Encino); Senator Josh Becker (D-Menlo Park) serves as Vice Chair. The text of the letter is as follows:

Dear President Biden,

We write on behalf of the nineteen members of the California Legislative Jewish Caucus to thank you for standing with Israel and with the Jewish community during this incredibly challenging moment. In particular, we are deeply grateful for your critical role in helping to secure a temporary pause in fighting between Israel and Hamas, which resulted in the release of over 100 hostages who were kidnapped into Gaza during the horrific terrorist attacks on October 7th.

The last 65 days have brought extraordinary pain and anguish to so many families in our Jewish community who are desperate for the release of loved ones who are currently being held captive in Gaza. We believe that ensuring the speedy and safe release of these hostages must remain a top priority. We understand that as a part of the negotiated pause in fighting, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) was supposed to be provided access to the remaining hostages to ascertain their health condition. Unfortunately, it appears that Hamas has not allowed the ICRC this access. Furthermore, reports — as well as direct testimony from hostages freed from captivity — suggest that Hamas has subjected many captives to severe physical, psychological, and sexual abuse and torture. We remain deeply concerned about the health and wellbeing of the remaining hostages and we respectfully implore you to do everything in your power to ensure the ICRC receives access to the hostages and that they are safely released as quickly as possible.

Again, thank you for your commitment to addressing this crisis swiftly and with the safety of civilians — both Israelis and Palestinians — as a top priority. We applaud your leadership and stand ready to support you in any way possible.