Pro-Palestinian commentator causes rows at Fox News

<span>Photograph: Richard Drew/AP</span>
Photograph: Richard Drew/AP

The Fox News correspondent Geraldo Rivera has become a rare and outspoken voice on his conservative television channel in lambasting Israel over its attacks on Gaza and other Palestinian targets in the current conflict.

Related: ‘Bearing the brunt’: the suffering of children in the Gaza-Israel conflict – photo essay

Geraldo has conducted numerous heated and emotional spats with other Fox News personalities, including powerful figures like Sean Hannity, by criticizing Israel’s activities and lauding those defending Palestinians – both rare positions on the reliably pro-Israel channel.

In two segments on Wednesday, the 77-year-old correspondent and commentator, who has reported from Israeli-occupied territories, declared that Rashida Tlaib – the only Palestinian American member of Congress and a frequent Fox target – “is right” to say that a $735m sale of US weapons, including guided bombs, to Israel should be halted.

Rivera echoed his on-air comments later on Twitter: “American bombs should not be used to kill defenseless civilians in #Gaza. @JoeBiden must stop ignoring carnage & injustice. A dead Palestinian child is as much a crime against humanity as a dead Israeli child. #NotWithOurBombs.”

This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.

Rivera’s stance is deeply at odds with the overall tenor of Fox’s coverage of the conflict, especially from its high-profile opinion hosts who are widely seen as keen backers of Israel and supporters of its military strikes.

Rivera was asked by the Fox News anchor Martha MacCallum if he was “sympathetic” to Tlaib’s position. “I am indeed, Martha,” he replied. “People have to recognize what the Gaza Strip is. It’s one of the most menacing places on Earth that I’ve ever reported from.”

He added: “It’s effectively one of the world’s largest prison camps and it is being bombed with bombs supplied by the United States. It’s outrageous that we gave Israel these hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of weapons without insisting on a ceasefire now.”

Rivera told viewers that sales of US arms to Israel “makes us complicit in an ongoing crime against humanity”.

“I want our audience – the fact that the United States of America is providing Israel many of the weapons Israel is using today to kill Palestinian civilians without demanding a ceasefire, Tlaib is right.”

The on-air Fox News confrontations continued with Hannity cutting Rivera off after he said it was “abhorrent” that Palestinian children died in bombings.

The exchanges come as a number of prominent entertainment industry voices in the US have come under intense online and professional pressure to curb public expressions of support for Palestinians.

“It’s free Palestine til Palestine is free!!!,” the Palestinian American model Bella Hadid posted on Instagram several days ago, and received 4.5m likes – or about 1/10th of her following.

Some who voiced support, including the reality star Paris Hilton, who wrote “This is so heartbreaking. This needs to stop. #SavePalestine”, have taken down their posts. Meanwhile others, including the musicians John Legend and Cat Power, have left theirs intact.