Several Democratic members of the House of Representatives have spoken out against the United States’ military support for Israel and called for the protection of Palestinians’ rights, in contrast to other Democrats and Republicans who expressed their full support for Israel during the ongoing escalation in the Gaza Strip.
In an emotional speech on the House floor, Rashida Tlaib criticised President Joe Biden and other top officials for offering statements that she said did not acknowledge “Palestinian humanity”.
“To read the statements from President [Joe] Biden, Secretary [of State Antony] Blinken, General [Lloyd] Austin and leaders of both parties, you would hardly know Palestinians existed at all,” said Tlaib, the US Congress’s only Palestinian-American member.
“There has been no recognition of the attack on Palestinian families being ripped from their homes right now. No mention of children being detained or murdered. No recognition of a sustained campaign of harassment and terror by Israeli police against worshippers kneeling down and praying and celebrating the holiest days in one of their holiest places, no mention of Al-Aqsa being surrounded by violence, tear gas, smoke, while people pray.”
Wearing a keffiyeh and at times trying to hold back her tears, Tlaib added: “If our own State Department can’t even bring itself to acknowledge the killing of Palestinian children is wrong, well, I will say it for the millions of Americans who stand with me against the killing of innocent children, no matter their ethnicity, or faith,” she added.
Israel continued on Friday to bombard the Gaza Strip with air raids and artillery shells and amassed troops and tanks near the besieged Palestinian enclave.
At least 119 Palestinians, including 31 children, have been killed and more than 830 wounded since hostilities flared up on Monday. Rockets fired by Palestinian groups in the Strip have also killed seven people in Israel.
The US administration has expressed its sympathy for all casualties but did not single out any side or criticise Israel for disproportional use of force.
Biden said on Wednesday that Israel has a right to defend itself, while in his latest comments on Thursday he repeated a call for both sides to hold fire.
“The question is how … they get to a point where there is a significant reduction in the attacks, particularly the rocket attacks that are indiscriminately fired into population centres,” he said.