A coalition of current and former Colorado elected officials and community organizations are urging the state’s congressional delegation to call for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas as the death toll in the war climbs past 20,000 people.

“The sole focus of the United States should be to facilitate an immediate release of all remaining Israeli and foreign national hostages, and arbitrarily detained Palestinians, the restoration of clean water, fuel, electricity and all basic services to Gaza. And of course, the passage of extensive humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip,” state Rep. Iman Jodeh, the state’s first Palestinian-American lawmaker, said on the steps of the Capitol on Thursday morning.

The Aurora Democrat was referencing a letter she wrote to the state’s congressional delegation that has over four dozen signatories. That includes current Democratic lawmakers Reps. Said Sharbini, Regina English, Elisabeth Epps, Lorena Garcia, Tim Hernández, Mandy Lindsay, Javier Mabrey, Tammy Story and Elizabeth Velasco, as well as state Sen. Julie Gonzales.

“When I decided to pen this open letter to our Democratic congressional delegation, I was stuck with two choices: to delve into the core of Palestinian liberation, that we must end the occupation, settler violence in the West Bank and restore the Palestinian right to live with dignity and self determination,” she said. “I will forever know that that is at the center, the core of the Palestinian cause. But the path that I chose to go down was to focus on what Gaza needs right now, at this moment.”

Since the Oct. 7 terrorist attacks on Israel, retaliatory airstrikes and a ground invasion of the Gaza Strip have killed nearly 20,000 people and displaced about 1.9 million residents. The war has created a humanitarian crisis as hospital systems collapse — both literally from airstrikes but also from the extreme number of wounded people needing treatment — and as access to food, water and fuel is severely limited.

The United States was the only country to vote against a United Nations Security Council resolution for a ceasefire earlier this month.

A Dec. 5 poll from the left-leaning firm Data for Progress found that 61% of Americans want the U.S. to call for “a permanent ceasefire and a de-escalation of violence in Gaza,” with 28% opposed.

No members of Colorado’s Democratic congressional delegation have outright called for a ceasefire, though U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette of Denver has called for a long-term peace deal that puts an immediate end to fighting and allows for a “massive humanitarian aid” effort in Gaza.

Rep. Jason Crow of Aurora sent a letter to President Joe Biden this week urging him to use his leverage to convince Israel to “shift its military strategy,” writing that the civilian deaths and humanitarian crisis are at odds with American interests.

“Congress, this is up to you. Our country has the power to press pause. We have the power of the purse. Even President Bush held up funding for the cause of peace in the Middle East. We can do it again,” former Democratic state lawmaker Jonathan Singer said.

The United States has supplied military aid to Israel since Oct. 7, including munitions and air defense systems, but gridlock in the Senate over a broader immigration and foreign aid deal blocked an additional $14.3 billion in assistance to Israel earlier this month.

This article originally appeared in Colorado Newsline, which is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Colorado Newsline maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Quentin Young for questions: [email protected]. Follow Colorado Newsline on Facebook and Twitter.