Palestinians using prayer mats as stretchers


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Source: Rashida for Congress

Tonight in the U.S., American Muslims including my family and I will be marking the end of Ramadan with the festival of Eid. Soon, thousands of Palestinian Muslims will gather at Al-Aqsa for Eid morning prayers. I pray that they are not met with more violence.

This past Monday, Israeli police fired tear gas, rubber-coated bullets, and stun grenades into one of the holiest sites for Muslims—Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque—while people were praying there during the holiest days of the holiest month of Ramadan. Then they blocked the Palestinian emergency medical service from entering to treat the over 250 people who needed hospitalization.

Palestinians were forced to use prayer mats as stretchers. Once medics were finally able to set up an on-site clinic, Israeli forces then attacked the clinic, firing stun grenades inside it.1

To ensure that Congress and our State Department take action to protect Palestinian human rights and save lives, we need your help to spread the word about what’s happening on the ground.

After Hamas responded to the attacks on Al-Aqsa with rockets (which is violence I have also condemned), the Israeli military launched air strikes into a captive refugee population in Gaza, and has continued to do so.

According to Gaza’s health ministry, the ongoing bombings have killed at least 48 Palestinians—including, devastatingly, 14 children—and wounded more than 300 people, with hundreds left homeless by the destruction of their homes.2 UNICEF also reported that, over the past few days in East Jerusalem, 37 Palestinian children have been injured or arrested.

Amidst international calls to de-escalate, Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu pledged yesterday that “both the might of the attacks and the frequency of the attacks will be increased.”

Thanks in part to billions of U.S. tax dollars each year, Israel’s military has become one of the strongest and most sophisticated in the world, all while continuing to expel Palestinians from their own land and stripping them of human rights—an ongoing Nakba, or catastrophe, since the first Israeli government committed massacres and mass expulsions in 1948.3

Although international human rights organizations have recognized that Israel is an occupying power that’s committing apartheid and ethnic cleansing, most media coverage is inaccurately framing this as “clashes” between two sides on equal footing with one another.4

As journalist Mehdi Hasan explained: “the fundamental unavoidable reality at the heart of this conflict is that there is an asymmetry of power here. One side is the occupier. The other side is occupied. And media coverage, political commentary, international interventions that don’t reflect this central fact—yes, the fact—of illegal occupation are all part of the problem.”

Recently, 330 (75%) of my colleagues in the U.S. House pledged to continue sending $3.8 billion of our tax dollars in military aid to Israel every year—with no conditions or accountability for wanton human rights abuses and continuing illegal seizures of Palestinian land.

With American taxpayer money being used to commit human rights violations, my Muslim colleagues in the U.S. House and I spoke out with our allies, calling for Congress to condition the aid we send to Israel.

By failing to act, our country’s leadership is telling Palestinians who are fighting apartheid the same thing they’re telling Black Americans across our country who are fighting police brutality: that there is no form of acceptable resistance to state violence except for the denial of people’s dignity and humanity.

Can you spread the word about how Palestinians are protesting for their freedom, rights, and lives—up against heavily armed Israeli soldiers and police?

Click here to share on Facebook, or here to share on Twitter.

My grandmother and other Palestinians deserve human rights and dignity. Instead, they’re experiencing generations of trauma, including dehumanization and feeling less than—on their own homeland.

I know this because I have been through checkpoints with my grandmother as the Israeli military interrogates and segregates her, simply for trying to seek services such as healthcare. For me this is very personal.

Just a few weeks ago, armed right-wing Israeli extremists marched through an Arab neighborhood in East Jerusalem chanting “death to Arabs” and physically assaulting Palestinians, uninterrupted by Israeli forces.

And the Israeli government has been planning to forcibly displace Palestinian families in occupied East Jerusalem, in order to seize the land for illegal Israeli settlements. This is ethnic cleansing, or forced population replacement. The UN demanded that Israel stop these forced expulsions, warning that these actions could constitute “war crimes.”5

All during the holy month of Ramadan.

And during the final days of Ramadan, no less—the holiest days of the holiest month—when many Muslim families pray at their mosques all night and stay there during the day.

I was 7 years old when I first prayed at the Al-Aqsa mosque with my sity, my grandmother. It’s a sacred site for Muslims. This is equivalent to attacking the Church of the Holy Sepulchre for Christians, or the Wailing Wall for Jews, during the holiest days of the year.

No matter our faith, we all deserve refuge in our places of worship. We all deserve to be free.

It’s time for the United States to hold the Israeli government accountable. We cannot stand by as billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars support Prime Minister Netanyahu’s far-right government and its racist violence. Our country must condemn this now, and pressure the Israeli government to start respecting Palestinians’ human rights. Enough is enough.

For too long, Americans—and many heads of state across the Arab world—have looked away from the racist and violent environment that Palestinians have to endure every day. And now that Palestinians can share videos of what’s happening to them on the ground, social media platforms like Facebook have been censoring activists and deleting posts to stop the dissemination of this truth.

Let us join together in the struggle for freedom and dignity for all.

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