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Louisville advocates for Palestinians call on Rep. Morgan McGarvey to sign cease-fire resolution

Woman speaks at microphone in front of white "CEASEFIRE" banner
Giselle Rhoden
Palestinian-American Leen Abozaid said 53 of her relatives have been killed in Gaza since the war began in early October.

The Louisville for Palestine coalition met Tuesday at Jefferson Square Park to call for Democratic Rep. Morgan McGarvey to sign a cease-fire resolution and an end to U.S. military aid to Israel.

As of Wednesday morning, there were more than 600 signatures on an open letter urging McGarvey to take action that the newly-formed coalition said reflects the opinions of voters. The coalition said a majority of Americans are in support of a cease-fire in Gaza.

Democratic Rep. Cori Bush of Missouri introduced a cease-fire resolution on the U.S. House floor last month. The bill has over a dozen co-sponsors, out of 435 members.

On Oct. 20, McGarvey posted a letter on X with signatures from him and 17 other members of Congress in support of President Joe Biden sending military and humanitarian aid to Israel. A couple weeks after that, the House passed a bill that would send more than $14 billion in military aid to Israel. McGarvey joined most other House Democrats in voting against the bill.

Leen Abozaid, a Palestinian-American member of the coalition, said 53 of her relatives had been killed in Gaza. She said she met McGarvey and shared her story with him.

“You listened to me and others, and you promised to change,” she said at the press conference Tuesday, in reference to her conversation with McGarvey. “But I didn't expect this change to be your failure to call for a cease-fire.”

Abozaid said McGarvey would face consequences when it comes time to vote for his reelection next year. Last week, McGarvey announced his intention to run again.

“In November, we will remember what you have done. Now it’s your turn to decide what history will write,” she said.

McGarvey said in a written statement that he has met Louisvillians affected by the conflict and he wants to continue to advocate for peace.

“My heart aches for every innocent Israeli and Palestinian family robbed of a loved one,” he said. “I remain committed to finding a peaceful path to a two-state solution in the region — which means immediately releasing the hostages, ending the fighting, and eradicating Hamas so not another innocent life is lost in this conflict.”

Dr. Amir Piracha, a cardiologist at U of L Health, said a cease-fire could save physicians and patients in Gaza.

Hospitals in Gaza are shutting down due to attacks by the Israeli military, which claims Hamas is operating in tunnels beneath them. Amid ongoing bombardment and limited outside aid, medical facilities are running out of resources, and hospital staff have begun digging mass graves for deceased patients.

“What we're witnessing is not health care for all but a destruction of the entire health care system,” Piracha said.

Médecins Sans Frontières, an international humanitarian organization with medical staff in Gaza, has described the effects of the attacks on hospitals. It, along with other aid groups, is urging world leaders to enact a cease-fire.

At least 11,000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza since the war began more than five weeks ago. Israeli officials say about 1,200 people were killed and more than 200 were taken hostage during the Hamas attack on Oct. 7.

Some Louisville groups have been outspoken in their support for Israel, including the Jewish Federation of Louisville, which posted on Facebook that its members were in Washington, D.C. Tuesday to join a march reiterating America’s support for Israel. Participants in the march called for the return of the hostages and denounced antisemitism.

Matt Golden, community relations director at the Jewish Federation, said he went to the march with other Jewish community members to oppose antisemitism and demand a release of the hostages taken by Hamas after the Oct. 7 attack. He said he went to stand for 3-year-old Abigail Edan, one of the dozens of children taken hostage.

"The horror Hamas has wrought is terrorizing children — Israeli and Palestinian alike — just like Abigail," he said.

Golden said he never expected to see the rise in antisemitism he's observed in recent weeks.

This story has been updated with comment from a representative of the Jewish Federation of Louisville.

Giselle is LPM's breaking news reporter. Email Giselle at grhoden@lpm.org.

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