This story originally appeared on Common Dreams on May 10, 2021, and is shared under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.
Democratic Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, the first Palestinian-American woman ever elected to Congress, demanded Monday that U.S. lawmakers and President Joe Biden take immediate and concrete action in response to Israeli forces’ latest assault on the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, where more than 300 Palestinians were injured by rubber bullets, stun grenades, and tear gas.
“Al-Aqsa is the third holiest site in Islam, and people praying during the holiest days of the holy month of Ramadan have been beaten, gassed, shot, and killed by Israeli forces,” Tlaib tweeted Monday morning. “They are denied medics and forced to use prayer mats as stretchers. A place of peace desecrated by violence.”
The Michigan Democrat went on to call out the bipartisan coalition of U.S. House members who rejected conditioning aid to Israel last month, shortly before Israeli settlers and state forces resumed efforts to forcefully expel Palestinians from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem—an effort that sparked outrage from Tlaib, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), and other progressive lawmakers.
“American taxpayer money is being used to commit human rights violations,” said Tlaib. “Congress must condition the aid we send to Israel, and end it altogether if those conditions are not followed. Statements aren’t working, [Secretary of State Antony] Blinken. Enough is enough.”
“I was seven years old when I first prayed at the Al-Aqsa with my sity. It’s a sacred site for Muslims,” Tlaib added. “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?
The Palestinian Red Crescent Society said at least 305 Palestinians were injured, several critically, in the Israeli forces’ attack on Al-Aqsa Monday, which came on the Israeli national holiday that marks the country’s seizure of East Jerusalem during the Six-Day War of 1967.
Observers feared that tensions and violence would continue escalating throughout the day as thousands of right-wing Israelis were planning to march through the Muslim Quarter of the Old City, but the demonstration was reportedly rerouted at the last minute.
“This is good news,” said Yair Rosenberg, senior writer at Tablet magazine. “Hopefully it’s not too late and the police can actually keep the marchers to the new route. Let’s hope more responsible decision-making follows.”
Video footage of the Monday attack posted to social media shows Israeli police beating a Palestinian detained at the compound, women and children scrambling to find cover amid Israeli forces’ bombardment of the mosque, and medics escorting wounded Palestinians away from the chaotic scene.
Khaled Zabarqa, a 48-year-old lawyer who had been praying at Al-Aqsa just before Israeli forces began firing on the compound, asked in an interview with the New York Times, “Why have they been attacking the Aqsa Mosque during Ramadan?”
“The Aqsa Mosque is a sacred place for Muslims,” said Zabarqa. “Israel is starting a religious war.
On top of the violence at Al-Aqsa, Israeli forces also reportedly attacked Palestinian demonstrators in Sheikh Jarrah on Monday as they protested Israel’s ongoing efforts to expel them from their homes.
“They beat me up then a minute later, completely denied they had done such a thing,” one protester who said he was assaulted by Israeli police told Al Jazeera. “This is a terrorist government. This is what a government that protects and abets terrorist ministers within its ranks is.”
In an appearance on Democracy Now! Monday morning, Palestinian writer and poet Mohammed El-Kurd—whose family lives in Sheikh Jarrah—said that “we want more than just condemnations” of Israeli conduct from the U.S. and the rest of the international community.
“We want Israel to be held accountable for its crimes against Palestinians,” said El-Kurd. “The Biden administration and the language of false equivalency continue to uphold this occupation.”
“I think you can deescalate the situation and the tension and the violence in Jerusalem by ending the occupation. That is the only solution,” El-Kurd continued. “It is insane for Palestinians to continue living under this occupation for 73 years.”
Mairav Zonszein, a senior analyst on Israel-Palestine with the International Crisis Group, argued in a column for The American Prospect on Monday that “the least Biden can do is stop the harm to Palestinians, which in turn will also prevent harm to Israelis.”
“One of the first steps Biden could take is to unequivocally disavow the Trump administration’s January 2020 ‘Peace to Prosperity’ plan, which put a stamp of approval on Israel’s taking of land and resources by force and excluded Palestinians from the process outright,” wrote Zonszein. “The administration should also plainly condemn, as the U.K. has, the systematic efforts by Israel to dispossess Palestinians from their homes.”
“The Biden administration should also enforce America’s own foreign-aid laws by ensuring greater transparency and accountability for how its aid to Israel is currently used, so that Israel is held to U.S. human rights standards and other benchmarks for aid recipients—something that has increasing support within the Democratic Party,” Zonszein added.
Correction: This article previously misstated that Rep. Rashida Tlaib was the first Palestinian-American ever elected to Congress. She was the first Palestinian-American woman ever elected to Congress.