Lamees Abu Arqub

Lamees Abu Arqub, newly freed from Israeli prison, poses with her family in the village of Dura in the occupied West Bank on November 28, 2023.

(Photo: Hazem Bader/AFP via Getty Images)

Tlaib Slams Colleagues for Not Demanding Release of Jailed Palestinians

Rep. Rashida Tlaib condemned the refusal of many U.S. lawmakers to "view Palestinians as equal human beings who deserve the same rights, freedom, and human dignity."

Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib on Tuesday called for the release of all hostages and political prisoners currently being held in Israel and Gaza after the U.S. House passed a resolution demanding that Hamas immediately free hostages taken during last month's deadly attack.

Tlaib, who voted for the resolution, said the failure of many of her colleagues to urge Israel to release Palestinians who have been jailed without charge or trial "demonstrates their refusal to view Palestinians as equal human beings who deserve the same rights, freedom, and human dignity."

"Every innocent civilian should be released and reunited with their family, no matter their faith or ethnicity," said Tlaib, the first Palestinian-American woman ever elected to the U.S. Congress. "I will continue to call for the release of all hostages, as well as the innocent Palestinians who were arbitrarily detained and being held by the Israeli government indefinitely without charge or trial."

Prior to the Hamas-led October 7 attack, Israel was holding more than 1,300 Palestinians in administrative detention, the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem has estimated. In the wake of the attack, Israeli authorities arrested thousands of additional Palestinians.

Under a deal that Israel and Hamas reached last week, dozens of Palestinians and Israelis have been freed from captivity during a fragile humanitarian pause. But as Al Jazeera reported, Israel arrested nearly as many Palestinians as it released during the first four days of the pause.

The Israeli military has described all of the Palestinians it has freed under the deal with Hamas—many of them children—as "terrorists." The Intercept's Jeremy Scahill observed that "of the 300 names Israel proposed for potential release, 233 of them have not been convicted of any crimes; they are categorized simply as 'under arrest.'"

"The Netanyahu government and its supporters have promoted a narrative that these prisoners are all hardened terrorists who committed violent crimes," Scahill wrote Sunday. "This assertion relies on a farcical 'Alice in Wonderland'-inspired logic of convicting them by fiat in public before any trial, even the sham trials to which Palestinians are routinely subjected. Israel released a list of the names with alleged crimes they committed. And who is making these allegations? A military that acts as a brutal occupation force against Palestinians in the West Bank."

"Israel is asking the world to believe that these 300 people are all dangerous terrorists, yet it has built a kangaroo military court system for Palestinians that magically churns out a nearly 100% conviction rate," Scahill added. "All of this from a country that constantly promotes itself as the only democracy in the Middle East."

More than 100 Palestinians and more than 60 Israelis have been freed during the pause, which is set to end Wednesday. While talks to further extend the pause are underway, the Financial Timesreported that "far-right ministers in Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's coalition have rejected the possibility of a broader hostage-for-prisoner release deal with Hamas."

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