KEY POINTS

  • Congresswomen called the attacks a violation of human rights and terrorism
  • They also urged President Biden to stop funding Israel 
  • Tlaib and Omar have always been vocal in their support for Palestine 

Echoes of Israel's airstrikes on Gaza, which killed 25 Palestinians including nine children Tuesday, reverberated back home as four Democratic congresswomen, collectively called the "Squad" for their progressive stance, piled pressure on the U.S. administration to take a stand.

Israel and Hamas exchanged heavy fire on Tuesday in a dramatic escalation sparked by unrest at Jerusalem's flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, where Israeli riot police clashed with large crowds of Palestinian worshippers on the last Friday of the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan.

Israel Defense Forces said at least six were injured in the Israeli city of Ashkelon on Tuesday morning in the Hamas rocket barrage while 15 militants were killed in the retaliatory airstrike. A spokesman said that over 90% of Hamas' missiles were intercepted by Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system. 

"Israeli airstrikes killing civilians in Gaza is an act of terrorism," Reps. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., wrote on Twitter. "Unlike Israel, missile defense programs, such as Iron Dome, don’t exist to protect Palestinian civilians. It’s unconscionable to not condemn these attacks on the week of Eid." 

She had earlier accused Israel of "ethnic cleansing," referring to the looming eviction of 70 Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah. 

Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., the first Palestinian-American woman elected to Congress, targetted President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken in her Twitter statement. 

"I was 7 years old when I first prayed at the Al Aqsa with my sity [sic]. It's a sacred site for Muslims. This is equivalent to attacking the Church of the Holy Sepulchre for Christians, or the Temple Mount for Jews. Israel attacks it during Ramadan. Where's the outrage @POTUS?"

She added that the "American taxpayer money is being used to commit human rights violations" and Congress must "condition the aid we send to Israel, and end it altogether if those conditions are not followed."

Blinken condemned the rocket attacks by Hamas and said "all sides need to de-escalate, reduce tensions and take practical steps to calm things down." 

Tlaib and Omar have always been vocal in their support for the Palestinian movement. They were barred from travelling to West Bank and East Jerusalem in 2019 by Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Another member of the "Squad," Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., too called the airstrikes "unacceptable" and said America should not finance state violence. After the attack on Palestinians in the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, where over 200 people were injured, Pressley had tweeted her support and solidarity for the Palestinian residents of Sheikh Jarrah. 

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-NY., too shared a similar message. "We stand in solidarity with the Palestinian residents of Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem," she wrote on Twitter. "Israeli forces are forcing families from their homes during Ramadan and inflicting violence. It is inhumane and the US must show leadership in safeguarding the human rights of Palestinians."

An Israeli sapper checks a damaged apartment in the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon after rockets were fired by the Hamas movement from the Gaza Strip towards Israel overnight An Israeli sapper checks a damaged apartment in the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon after rockets were fired by the Hamas movement from the Gaza Strip towards Israel overnight Photo: AFP / JACK GUEZ