Rep. Ayanna Pressley questioned U.S. monetary aid to Israel last week as violence in the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem escalated. The Massachusetts legislature compared the conflict between Palestenians and the Israeli military to the more familiar struggles between Black Americans who experience police violence.
“Palestinians are being told the same thing as Black folks in America — there is no acceptable form of resistance. We are bearing witness to egregious human rights violations,” Pressley said on the House floor on Thursday evening, according to The Boston Globe.
Israeli forces continued to fire missiles at the Gaza Strip, targeting Palestenian nationalist group Hamas, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying that he wants to “levy a heavy price” against them for launching rockets at Israel, according to CBS News.
In the second week of the latest fighting, Israeli rockets reportedly killed 200 Palestenians, including 55 children and 33 women, with more than 1,200 injuries, CBS News reports.
Pressley has publicly questioned the delivery of billions of dollars in U.S. aid to Israel while Palestinian children and families are left harmed.
The latest chapter in the lengthy conflict between Israelis and Palestenians began over recent attempts to move Palestinians out of certain parts of Jerusalem over land disputes. During the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, Israeli police raided a mosque in Jerusalem, considered an Islamic holy site, setting off demonstrations.
Hamas, which controls Gaza, fired rockets in response at several Israeli cities, including Jerusalem. Israel responded with multiple airstrikes into Gaza, further escalating the conflict.
“We cannot stand idly and complicitly by and allow the occupation and oppression of the Palestinian people to continue,” Pressley said. “I am committed to ensuring that our government does not fund state violence in any form, anywhere… The question at hand is should our taxpayer dollars create conditions for justice, healing and repair, or should those dollars create conditions for oppression and apartheid?”
Pressley’s House colleague, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has also been critical of the Biden Administration after President Joe Biden spoke with Netanyahu urging calm in the region. Biden however, also said that Israel has a right to defend itself from Hamas attacks.
“Do Palestinians have a right to survive?” Ocasio-Cortez said on the House floor. “Do we believe that? And if so, we have a responsibility to that as well.”
Meanwhile, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken told reporters he welcomes any effort by the United Nations or other countries to help facilitate a cease-fire.
“Any diplomatic initiative that advances that prospect is something that we’ll support,” he said. “And we are again willing and ready to do that. But ultimately it is up to the parties to make clear that they want to pursue a cease-fire.”