Rashida Tlaib accuses Israel of “war crimes” and “ethnic cleansing” in

Detroit-area congresswoman Rashida Tlaib posted a statement on X (formerly Twitter) on Friday night accusing the Israeli government of “war crimes” and “ethnic cleansing” in Gaza and calling for an immediate ceasefire. The statement did not condemn any actions by Hamas or other Palestinian actors at war with the State of Israel. 

Tlaib, a Palestinian-American whose comments about Israel and its conflict with the Palestinians were a source of controversy even before the war broke out on October 7, cited “the use of white phosphorous bombs” as an example of an Israeli war crime. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch both accused Israel of using white phosphorous early in the war, citing videos that were posted to social media and photographs of Israeli munitions with identifying codes. The IDF denied those allegations. 

Although white phosphorous is not banned as a chemical weapon, its use in populated areas is prohibited under the Convention on the Prohibition of Use of Certain Conventional Weapons. Israel is not a signatory to that protocol. 

Tlaib condemns Biden’s challenge to reported death tolls

Tlaib’s statement also accused US President Joe Biden of “baselessly [casting] doubt on the Palestinian death toll,” “instead of helping end the violence.” This was presumably in reference to President Biden’s October 25 comment that he has “no notion that the  Palestinians are telling the truth about how many people are killed.”

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said it was “deeply disturbed” by those comments, and a Washington Post ‘fact checker’ column said it was “remarkably uninformed by history and precedent.” The column noted, however, that even if the Hamas-run Health Ministry’s total numbers are to be trusted, they do not distinguish between combatants and civilians.

Rep. Rashida Tlaib (MI-12) kisses U.S. Rep. Cori Bush (D-MO) as they take part in a protest calling for a ceasefire in Gaza outside the U.S. Capitol, in Washington, U.S., October 18, 2023. (credit: REUTERS/LEAH MILLIS)

The night of the explosion, Tlaib posted to X that “Israel just bombed the Baptist Hospital killing 500 Palestinians (doctors, children, patients) just like that.” She left the post standing without qualification until a week later, a which point she added a statement acknowledging analysts’ skepticism, but refusing to accept their conclusions absent an “independent investigation.”

Tlaib calls for ‘dismantling’ Israeli ‘apartheid’ as key to peace

“Achieving a just and lasting peace,” Tlaib’s statement said, “requires lifting the blockade, ending the occupation, and dismantling the dehumanizing system of apartheid.” 

The language echoes Tlaib’s statement on October 8, just one day after thousands of Hamas terrorists invaded the Israeli south, raping, torturing, and murdering more than a thousand Israeli civilians, and taking more than 240 people hostage. “I grieve the Palestinian and Israeli lives lost,” Tlaib said, “yesterday, today, and every day.”

“The path to the future must include lifting the blockade, ending the occupation, and dismantling the apartheid system that creates the suffocating, dehumanizing conditions that can lead to resistance.”

Tlaib was harshly criticized for this statement. In response to claims that she had attempted to justify the attack, Tlaib said, “I do not support the targeting and killing of civilians, whether in Israel or Palestine,” and that “the fact that some have suggested otherwise is offensive and rooted in bigoted assumptions about my faith an ethnicity.”

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