Hundreds of white-shrouded body bags were thoughtfully laid in front of the White House on November 15th in a silent demonstration organized by Amnesty International USA and Avaaz, a global web movement bringing people-powered politics to decision-making everywhere.
The body bags represented less than three percent of the more than 11,000 people killed in the occupied Gaza Strip and around 1,200 people killed in Israel since October 7, 2023.
Staff and volunteers arranged the body bags in sizes representing adults, children and infants to create “families,” symbolizing the and the families of the more than who were killed in Gaza. To honor each life, a single red rose was placed on each body.
Several bystanders paused to witness the event—some took photos, and a few thanked staff and members for creating the place to grieve. School groups passed and stopped at the display, and one child, around 10 years old, asked an Amnesty staff member if they could join the protest. A mother pushing a child in a stroller walked around the display three or four times, before crouching and crying.
As dusk settled, the seven-hour demonstration transformed into a vigil. Candles were carefully placed near the body bags, memorializing the over 12,000 individuals who have been killed. Few people talked, but many cried during the two hours of darkness. A staff member said she felt the weight of the collective grief as she scanned the crowd staring at the body bags.
Call on President Biden
Because of its close relationship with the Israeli government—which includes sending billions of dollars in military funding and weapons annually—the United States plays a key role and has a responsibility to ensure civilians are protected and a humanitarian collapse is prevented.
Amnesty International USA is calling on President Biden to:
- Publicly call for and facilitate an immediate ceasefire,
- Demand the Israeli government allow unimpeded humanitarian aid to Gaza and ensure U.S. aid flows there,
- Support the safe release of hostages,
- Support the release of Palestinian administrative detainees, and
- Immediately suspend the sale or transfer of weapons to the Israeli government.
The United States government must do everything within its power to ensure the protection of civilians, prevent further staggering levels of human suffering, provide adequate humanitarian relief, and facilitate the safe release of hostages.
“Nearly a million Avaaz members are asking President Biden: ‘How many more children must die before you support the global call for a ceasefire? How many are enough?’ President Biden, his cabinet and our Congress are allowing thousands of children to be murdered by one of our closest allies. Not only is this morally bankrupt, it is actively risking American security, our global reputation and the safety of hostages. It is time for America to recognize that standing with the Israeli people does not mean giving a blank check to their Prime Minister as he massacres thousands of innocent civilians.”
– Nell Greenberg, Deputy Director of Avaaz
How you can take action
More than a million people around the world have signed Amnesty International’s petition demanding a ceasefire to end the escalation of hostilities in Gaza and Israel since October 7.
Hundreds of white-shrouded body bags in front of the White House
Bystander crouches in front of the body bags during the candlelit vigil
Amnesty International USA and Avaaz staff hold up banner demanding Biden to call for a ceasefire now!
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