Members of more than 100 Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim groups joined other critics of Israel’s recent bombardment of Gaza in Washington, D.C. on Saturday to hold a March for Palestine urging U.S. President Joe Biden and Congress to hold the Israeli government “accountable for its war crimes.”
“We just want the world to recognize that we are human beings. We are not terrorists,” Lama Alahmad, a march participant, told Voice of America.
Alahmad, a 43-year-old stay-at-home mother, is of Palestinian origin but grew up in the United Arab Emirates. She moved to the United States about two decades ago and now lives in Virginia. She said that “there is a huge change” happening in the U.S. now regarding support for Palestinian sovereignty.
Over 200 Palestinians, including scores of children, were killed earlier this month as Israel carried out airstrikes on the besieged Gaza Strip. Though most of rockets that Palestinian militants fired from Gaza were stopped by Israeli air defenses, over a dozen people were also killed in Israel.
A cease-fire ended 11 days of violence, but calls for consequences have persisted. The United Nations human rights chief said that Israel’s airstrikes—which affected governmental buildings, homes, media offices, medical facilities, and other essential infrastructure—”may constitute war crimes.”
“In the past three weeks, people from across the world have shown unprecedented solidarity and support for the rights of the Palestinian people,” said Dr. Mohsin Ansari, president of the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) and United States Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO) chair, in a statement.
“This unwavering support from just individuals across the globe has sent a clear message to the governments of Israel and the United States that the atrocities and the killing of innocent civilians, including children, is absolutely unacceptable,” he added.
The #March4 Palestine was a part of the new national #SanctionIsrael campaign urging the Biden administration and members of Congress to sanction Israel and stop providing the country with billions in U.S. tax dollars and military hardware.
“Millions of Americans around the country are joining to say there must be an end to this ugly, immoral, and illegal status quo,” Osama Abuirshaid, executive director of American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), told Arab News.
Organizers of the march—which began at the Lincoln Memorial Saturday afternoon—included USCMO, AMP, and various partner organizations such as the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).
“We are seeing increasing progress in raising awareness for Congress to better support solutions to protect the legal and human rights of Palestinians,” CAIR National executive director Nihad Awad said in a statement. “At the same time we have witnessed a continued reluctance in the Biden administration to hold Israel accountable for its war crimes in Gaza or uphold American values by demanding an end to evictions of Palestinians in Jerusalem.”
After visiting Israel this week, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told Axios that he warned Israeli leaders that forcing more Palestinian families from their homes in East Jerusalem or future confrontations at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound could fuel further “tension, conflict, and war.”
The Associated Press reports that “Egypt and Israel held high-level talks in both countries Sunday to shore up a fragile truce between Israel and the Hamas militant group and rebuild the Gaza Strip after a punishing 11-day war that left parts of the seaside enclave in ruins.”
Meanwhile, according to the AP, “Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s opponents on Sunday appeared to be moving closer toward a coalition deal that could end the 12-year rule of the longtime Israeli leader.”