Progressives rip into the Biden administration for refusing to condemn Israel as airstrikes kill Palestinian civilians

·4 min read
Palestinian children
Relatives of 11-year-old Hussain Hamad, who was killed by an explosion during the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, react during his funeral in the family home in Beit Hanoun, northern Gaza Strip, Tuesday, May 11, 2021. Khalil Hamra/Associated Press
  • Progressives lashed out at the Biden admin. over its response to recent violence in Israel.

  • The admin. touted Israel's right to self-defense as it carried out airstrikes in response to rocket attacks.

  • The Israeli strikes reportedly killed 26 people, including nine children. Two Israelis were killed by the rockets.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Progressive Democrats on Monday called out the Biden administration for promoting Israel's right to self-defense as the Israeli military pummeled parts of Gaza with airstrikes in response to rocket attacks from militant groups.

The Israeli airstrikes killed 26 people, including nine children, per the Associated Press. Most of the rockets launched by militants in Gaza were intercepted by Israel's Iron Dome defense system, but two Israelis were killed. Hundreds of the rockets were fired by Hamas, which controls Gaza, and other militant groups.

Discussing the situation at a press briefing on Monday, State Department spokesperson Ned Price called for "calm."

"While we urge de-escalation on all sides, we also recognize Israel's legitimate right to defend itself and to defend its people and its territory. It is critical for all sides to ensure calm and de-escalate tensions and avoid violent confrontations," Price said.

Palestine
Palestinian mourners carry the body of 11-year-old Hussain Hamad, who was killed by an explosion during the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, out of the morgue during his funeral in Beit Hanoun, northern Gaza Strip, Tuesday, May 11, 2021. Khalil Hamra/Associated Press

'He can't even condemn the killing of children'

Responding to Price's remarks in a tweet, Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan said, "Is @StateDeptSpox really refusing to condemn the killing of Palestinian children?"

Similarly, Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota tweeted, "This unsurprising response is devoid of empathy and concern for human suffering. He can't even condemn the killing of children."

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When asked about the reports of civilian deaths due to Israeli airstrikes during Monday's briefing, Price said, "These reports are just emerging ... I understand we don't have independent confirmation of facts on the ground yet, so I'm very hesitant to get into reports that are just emerging."

"Obviously, the deaths of civilians, be they Israeli or Palestinians, are something we would take very seriously," Price added.

Monday also saw Israeli police raid the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem, one of Islam's holiest sites, injuring over 300 Palestinians in the process, according to Palestine Red Crescent Society. Police - who said 21 officers were injured during the raid - fired fired rubber bullets, stun grenades, and tear gas in the compound, Reuters reported.

Tensions stoked by historic and more immediate factors

Al Aqsa
A member of Israeli police runs after a cameraman during clashes with Palestinians at the compound that houses Al-Aqsa Mosque, known to Muslims as Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount, in Jerusalem's Old City, May 10, 2021. Ammar Awad/Reuters

The recent escalation in violence has been fueled by a convoluted array of factors, both historic and more recent. Israel's decadeslong occupation of Palestinian territories remains at the heart of the issue. More immediately, the planned evictions of Palestinian families from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem has led to demonstrations and increased tensions.

Progressives in Congress have spoken out against the impending evictions.

"We stand in solidarity with the Palestinian residents of Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem," Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York tweeted over the weekend. "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."

Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont in a tweet called on the US to "speak out strongly against the violence by government-allied Israeli extremists in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, and make clear that the evictions of Palestinian families must not go forward."

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