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Flames and smoke rose from an area of Gaza City targeted by Israeli airstrikes in May 2021. (Photo: Ali Jadallah/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Flames and smoke rose from an area of Gaza City targeted by Israeli airstrikes in May 2021. (Photo: Ali Jadallah/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Sanders Says US Must Call for Cease-Fire and End to 'Provocative and Illegal Settlement Activity' by Israel

The senator joined a growing chorus of global political leaders alarmed by the escalating violence and settler colonialism in the region.

Common Dreams staff

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders on Tuesday added his voice to a growing chorus of political figures in the United States and around the world who have expressed alarm about Israeli forces' violence against Palestinian protesters in occupied East Jerusalem and deadly airstrikes on Gaza, along with retaliatory rocket fire from Palestinians.

"Palestinian children should not have to grow up under the constant violence and oppression of occupation, as so many do, and have done."
—Sen. Bernie Sanders

"I am extremely concerned by the growing conflict in Israel and Palestine," Sanders (I-Vt.) said in a statement. "Once again we are seeing how the irresponsible actions of government-allied right-wing extremists in Jerusalem can escalate quickly into devastating war."

In a message to the Biden administration, he added: "The United States must call for an immediate cease-fire and an end to provocative and illegal settlement activity. And we must also recommit to working with Israelis and Palestinians to finally end this conflict."

"Israeli children should not have to spend the night scared in bomb shelters, as many are doing tonight," he said. "Palestinian children should not have to grow up under the constant violence and oppression of occupation, as so many do, and have done."

U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), who has repeatedly spoken out about recent Israeli actions and the Biden administration's response to conditions in the region, also shared a message about Palestinian children:

The escalating violence on Tuesday—including an airstrike that destroyed a 13-story apartment building in Gaza—followed crackdowns on protests against attempts by Israeli forces and settler colonists to force Palestinians from their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem.

Political leaders and human rights experts the world over condemned the violence and noted that the takeovers of Palestinian homes are violations of international law.

U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) urged the Biden administration to pressure Israel to "move away from annexation" and said that Congress should condition military aid to the country on whether the Israeli government is abiding by international law.

"We cannot ignore the ongoing violence in Jerusalem and beyond as the Israeli government uses excessive force on worshippers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque," U.S. Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) said Tuesday. "We need to have serious conversations about U.S. taxpayer dollars funding actions like these."

Some advocates for peace went further. In an email Tuesday, the U.S.-based anti-war group CodePink said:

What is happening in Palestine is heartbreaking and people around the world are taking to the streets demanding a just and lasting end to the root cause of the violence: Israeli apartheid. This week marks 73 years since hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were violently displaced from their homes to make way for the Zionist project. We have the obligation to be loudly and proudly in solidarity with Palestine and Palestinians, so that not one more family will lose their homes or loved ones to Israeli attacks.

In a tweet, CodePink slammed U.S. military aid to Israel and promoted a petition calling on President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken to "stop funding Israeli apartheid and violence."

According to Jewish Voice for Peace, activists and members of Congress on Tuesday delivered another petition to the U.S. State Department calling for the Israeli government and settlers to stop ethnically cleansing Palestinians from Silwan and Sheikh Jarrah.

Critics of Israeli settler colonialism also protested in New York City and outside the State Department in Washington, D.C.:

As of Tuesday evening, according to the New York Times, at least 30 Palestinians, including 10 children, had been killed and another 203 others were injured in recent days, while three people had been killed in Israel and at least 100 were wounded.

During a press briefing on Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that the president's support for "Israel's security, for its legitimate right to defend itself and its people, is fundamental and will never waver."

"Jerusalem, a city of such importance to people of faith around the world, must be a place of co-existence," said Psaki. She added that evictions of Palestinian families "work against our common interests in achieving a solution to the conflict."

This post has been updated with comment from White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki.


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