3rd Thursday Action Alert: Tell Congress to Urge an Immediate Cessation of Violence in Israel and Gaza, Pass HR 2590

3rd Thursday Action Alert: Tell Congress to Urge an Immediate Cessation of Violence in Israel and Gaza, Pass HR 2590

In recent days, fighting between Israel and Hamas saw the largest escalation in violence since the 2014 War on Gaza. At least 219 Palestinians in Gaza and 12 Israelis have been killed (as of May 19), with more than 1,570 Palestinians in Gaza wounded. The escalation comes at a time when tensions were already quite high. During the final days of Ramadan, as Palestinian Muslims worshiped at al-Aqsa Mosque, Israeli police raided the compound, firing tear gas, stun grenades, and rubber bullets and leaving over 300 people wounded. In the neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem, Palestinian families are under imminent threat of forced expulsion at the hands of Israeli settlers.

In a May 11 statement, the Middle East Council of Churches reaffirmed that “lifting the occupation of the Palestinian people and enjoying their freedom, dignity, and full rights are the means that lead to lasting stability and peace in the region.” UCC and Disciples leaders also expressed their concern and opposition to violations of Palestinian rights.

The mosque invasion and planned expulsions in Jerusalem are part of a larger and systematic effort to displace Palestinians throughout the West Bank. In an April 29 letter to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, 12 churches and Christian agencies urged the US to take “action to halt the imminent displacement of up to 2,000 Palestinians in Jerusalem.” In addition to calling for the US to take immediate action, the letter draws attention to H.R. 2590 introduced by Rep. Betty McCollum, “which, if passed, would ensure that no US assistance to Israel is used to fund the demolition of Palestinian homes, to annex Palestinian land, or to hold Palestinian children in military detention.”

The planned evictions further Israel’s goal of colonial expansion throughout East Jerusalem and the West Bank, forcibly displacing Palestinian families from their lands and homes and replacing them with illegal Israeli settlements. The decades-old practice of Israeli demolition and seizure of Palestinian homes represents a flagrant violation of international law, specifically Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits the forcible transfer of protected populations by an occupying power.

“What we are witnessing in Sheikh Jarrah is Israel’s attempt to erase the Palestinian presence from our native city in real time,” said Mohammed El-Kurd, whose family is among those set to be evicted this month. “This fate of dispossession looms over much of my neighborhood. Our lives are consumed by the anxiety of living on the brink of homelessness.”

The fighting between Israel and Hamas must end immediately. Israel’s brutal occupation of Palestine is supported by US diplomacy and $3.8 billion in annual funding to Israel. The US must stop being complicit in these human rights violations and condition funding on Israel’s compliance with US and international law.