The deputy mayor of Jerusalem, Aryeh Yitzhak King, has called for the Israeli army to bury alive hundreds of Palestinian civilians captured in Gaza.
In a post on X on Friday, King, a far-right politician, said the Israeli army was eliminating “Muslim Nazis” in Gaza and suggested it needed to pick up the pace.
The post made specific reference to footage published by the Israeli army showing captured Palestinians stripped to their underwear, kneeling on the ground and being guarded by Israeli soldiers.
King, in his post that has since been deleted for violating rules on X, said: “If it were up to me, I would have dispatched D-9 bulldozers and put them behind the mounds of dirt and would have given the order to cover all these hundreds of ants, while they’re still alive.”
The men are thought to have been arrested in Beit Lahia, in the far north of the Gaza Strip.
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Israel said they were Hamas members, however it provided no evidence for the claim which could not be independently verified.
Diaa al-Kahlout, a well-known journalist at al-Araby al-Jadeed, was identified by local media as among those being held.
“They aren’t human beings and not human animals. They’re subhuman and that’s how they should be treated,” King said, adding “Eradicate the memory of Amalek, and never forget.”
‘They aren’t human beings and not human animals. They’re subhuman and that’s how they should be treated’
– Aryeh Yitzhak King
Amalek is in reference to a biblical verse, which has also been referenced recently by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, calling for the extermination of every man, woman and child, and their livestock, belonging to an ancient enemy of the Jewish people.
Several far-right Israelis and ultranationalists have in the past referred to Palestinians as modern-day Amalekites, in what commentators have deemed as genocidal language used to justify the killing of Palestinians.
As the deputy mayor, King administers all of the territory within Israel’s Jerusalem municipality, which includes occupied East Jerusalem and almost 400,000 Palestinians.
More than 17,000 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed by Israeli attacks since the war began two months ago. Most of the dead are women and children.
The bombing campaign followed Hamas’s attack on southern Israeli communities on 7 October, which killed around 1,200 Israelis, most of whom were civilians.
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MADISON, Wis. — Demonstrators in Madison are putting pressure on U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin to call for a ceasefire in Israel and Palestine.
The organizations Madison for a World Beyond War and Jewish Voice for Peace have been setting up vigils outside the senator’s Madison officer for the past week.
On Friday, they read the names of children who have been killed in the bombings of Gaza.
The demonstrators want Baldwin to join other lawmakers who have made public statements supporting a ceasefire and for the government to cut military aid to Israel.
“There’s only so much that letter-writing and phone-calling and phone-banking can do,” demonstrator Phil Trachtenberg said. “She needs to see the people in front of her office saying this is wrong, what we are supporting, what our tax dollars are supporting is wrong and what’s being done in the name of Judaism is wrong.”
Rep. Mark Pocan made a statement in October calling for a ceasefire and for the federal government to send more humanitarian aid to Gaza.
UNITED NATIONS, Dec 8 (Reuters) – The United States on Friday vetoed a proposed United Nations Security Council demand for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in the war between Israel and Palestinian militant group Hamas in Gaza, diplomatically isolating Washington as it shields its ally.
Thirteen other members voted in favor of a brief draft resolution, put forward by the United Arab Emirates, while Britain abstained. The vote came after U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres made a rare move on Wednesday to formally warn the 15-member council of a global threat from the two-month long war.
“What is the message we are sending Palestinians if we cannot unite behind a call to halt the relentless bombardment of Gaza?” Deputy UAE U.N. Ambassador Mohamed Abushahab asked the council. “Indeed, what is the message we are sending civilians across the world who may find themselves in similar situations?”
The United States and Israel oppose a ceasefire because they believe it would only benefit Hamas. Washington instead supports pauses in fighting to protect civilians and allow the release of hostages taken by Hamas in a deadly Oct. 7 attack on Israel.
Deputy U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Robert Wood told the council that the draft resolution was a rushed, imbalanced text “that was divorced from reality, that would not move the needle forward on the ground in any concrete way.”
“We do not support this resolution’s call for an unsustainable ceasefire that will only plant the seeds for the next war,” said Wood.
The U.S. had offered substantial amendments to the draft, including a condemnation of the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks that Israel says killed 1,200 people and in which 240 people were taken hostage.
Britain’s U.N. Ambassador Barbara Woodward said her country abstained because there was no condemnation of Hamas.
“Israel needs to be able to address the threat posed by Hamas and it needs to do so in a manner that abides by international humanitarian law so that such an attack can never be carried out again,” she told the council.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres attends a United Nations Security Council meeting
Palestinian U.N. envoy Riyad Mansour told the council the result of the vote was “disastrous,” adding: “Millions of Palestinian lives hang in the balance. Every single one of them is sacred, worth saving.”
Israel’s U.N. Ambassador Gilad Erdan did not address the Security Council after the vote, but in a statement said: “A ceasefire will be possible only with the return of all the hostages and the destruction of Hamas.”
The United States favors its own diplomacy over Security Council action to win the release of more hostages and press Israel to better protect civilians in Gaza as it retaliates against Hamas.
However, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken acknowledged on Thursday that there was a “gap” between Israel’s intent to protect civilians and what has happened on the ground. Gaza’s Health Ministry says more than 17,480 people have been killed.
Israel has bombarded Gaza from the air, imposed a siege and launched a ground offensive. The vast majority of the Palestinian enclave’s 2.3 million people have been driven from their homes.
“There is no effective protection of civilians,” Guterres told the council earlier on Friday. “The people of Gaza are being told to move like human pinballs – ricocheting between ever-smaller slivers of the south, without any of the basics for survival. But nowhere in Gaza is safe.”
A seven-day pause – during which Hamas released some hostages and there was an increase in badly needed humanitarian aid to Gaza – ended on Dec. 1.
After several failed attempts to take action, the Security Council last month called for pauses in fighting to allow aid access to Gaza, which Guterres on Friday described as a “spiraling humanitarian nightmare.”
Reporting by Michelle Nichols, additional reporting by Humeyra Pamuk and Jonathan Landay; editing by Susan Heavey, Frances Kerry, Mark Heinrich, Jonathan Oatis and Cynthia Osterman
Refaat Alareer, one of the founders of the ‘We Are Not Numbers’ project and professor at the Islamic University of Gaza, was killed by an Israeli airstrike.
Professor Alareer was not an ordinary intellectual. He was an educator, who has inspired countless young people in Gaza to take charge of their own narrative and to tell the story of Gaza and Palestine based on their own experiences.
“(Refaat) authored many books and wrote tens of stories about Gaza. Refaat’s assassination is tragic, painful and outrageous. It is a huge loss,” his friend and We Are Not Numbers co-founder, Ahmed Alnaouq, wrote on X on Thursday.
On November 30, Alareer spoke to The New Arab about his decision not to evacuate northern Gaza.
“Israel is destroying Gaza in a way that will impact life for decades to come,” he told the UK-based news website at the time.
“Refaat was one of my inspirations in Gaza. Beyond brilliant and charming, he was simply kind and genuine as a person,” Ramzy Baroud, a Gaza-born intellectual and author said.
“I felt that everything he wrote or uttered represented a priority for us around the world. We were guided by him, and people like him. His death has completely disoriented me,” Baroud added.
Alareer, a beloved English professor, communicated some of his last thoughts through his X profile.
“If I must die, you must live to tell my story,” he wrote in a poem, published on November 1. “If I must die, let it bring hope, let it be a tale”.
On December 4, as Israeli airstrikes on his neighborhood intensified, Alareer wrote a tribute to the Palestinian Resistance, who is confronting the invading Israeli forces:
“I wish I were a freedom fighter,” he said, “so I die fighting back those invading Israeli genocidal maniacs invading my neighborhood and city.”
The strongest message, however, is in his last words, also written on X on December 4. Sharing a video featuring United States Vice President Kamala Harris, Alareer wrote, with unmistakable clarity:
“The Democratic Party and (US President Joe) Biden are responsible for the Gaza genocide perpetrated by Israel.”
“Refaat’s death is not the end of the story, but the start of a new chapter of intellectual resistance,” Baroud said.
“I am so sorry, Refaat. I was hoping that we would continue to work together for years to come, but I promise you, your tale will always be told.”
“It is when darkness prevails that I sit by the window to look past all those electricity-free houses, smell the sweet scent of a calm Gazan night, feel the fresh air going straight to my heart, and think of you, of me, of Palestine, of the crack, of the blank wall, of you, of Mama, of you, of my history class, of you, of God, of Palestine—of our incomplete story.”
Human rights defenders around the world expressed anguish and outrage Thursday after Refaat Alareer, a Palestinian professor who was one of Gaza’s most prominent writers and activists, was killed in an Israeli airstrike in Shejaiya that also killed his brother, sister, and her four children.
Alareer, 44, was “a beloved professor of world literature, comparative literature, Shakespeare, and creative writing at the Islamic University of Gaza, where he taught since 2007,” notedLiterary Hub.
Through his popular Twitter account, “Refaat in Gaza,” Dr. Alareer documented, and forcefully condemned, the ongoing atrocities committed against his people by Israeli forces, as well as the U.S. administrations that have enabled them.
Alareer’s friend and We Are Not Numbers co-founder Ahmed Alnaouqwrote on social media: “[Refaat] authored many books and wrote tens of stories about Gaza. Refaat’s assassination is tragic, painful, and outrageous. It is a huge loss.”
A groundswell of tributes to Alareer flooded social media following the news of his killing.
Gazan poet Mosab Abu Toha said, “Breaking, my heart is broken, my friend and colleague Refaat Alareer was killed with his family minutes ago.”
“I don’t want to believe this,” he added. “We both loved to pick strawberries together. I took this photo of him this summer.”
The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC)—Quaker peace group whoseLight In Gaza anthology featured Alareer’s work—said in a statement that “Refaat was a friend, a mentor, and a father.”
“He built up those around him, helping them envision a different future and encouraging them to speak up for their rights,” AFSC added. “His impact will be felt for generations to come.”
Palestinian journalist Hebh Jamal wrote: “You killed my friend. Someone I kept praying would stay safe. Someone I messaged daily [because] his resilience gave me hope.”
“He laughed in the face of the genocidal maniacs every day he stayed alive never allowing them to think he was afraid,” she added. “You killed him. You killed Refaat Alareer.”
Canadian author and activist Naomi Kleinsaid she is “absolutely sickened by this loss.”
“I was just now on his site reading his beautiful poetry,” she added. “I feel such shame.”
The Chicago-based website The Electronic Intifadasaid on social media it is “devastated by Israel’s murder of our dear colleague, friend, and mentor.”
“Throughout this genocide, Refaat never stopped writing, supporting his students, and bringing Gaza’s voice to the world,” the site added. “We will make sure it continues to be heard.”
Journalist and filmmaker Dan Cohen wrote that “I’m in tears and sick to my stomach as I write this.”
“Refaat was a guiding light as I documented life and death for my documentary, Killing Gaza,” he continued. “He helped me gain access to elders in his neighborhood who provided testimony of shocking Israeli war crimes.”
“Refaat Alareer embraced everything good and pure about Gaza and Palestine,” Cohen added. “He will not be forgotten and his legacy will live on for many generations to come.”
Last month, Alareer posted one of his poems, “If I Must Die,” on social media.
If I must die,
you must live
to tell my story
to sell my things
to buy a piece of cloth
and some strings,
(make it white with a long tail)
so that a child, somewhere in Gaza
while looking heaven in the eye
awaiting his dad who left in a blaze—
and bid no one farewell
not even to his flesh
not even to himself—
sees the kite, my kite you made, flying up above
and thinks for a moment an angel is there
bringing back love
If I must die
let it bring hope
let it be a tale.
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“Wisconsin All Out For Palestine”
Saturday, December 9, 2023, 1 p.m
State Capitol, Madison, WI
Wisconsin Coalition for Justice in Palestine (WCJP), representing more than 50 organizations throughout the State, sponsors the “Wisconsin All Out For Palestine” rally and march on Saturday, December 9 at the Capitol. We welcome all to join in voicing our urgent demands. This family-friendly event begins at 1 pm at the Capitol.
Our diversity of speakers demonstrates widespread opposition to US policies toward Palestine and the whole region. Coalition convener Janan Najeeb joins speakers from co-founding organizations, including Jewish Voice for Peace, and Milwaukee Muslim Women Coalition, as well as representatives from Indigenous, Black, LGBTQ+, Labor, and other BIPOC and workers’ communities Coalition demands:
Permanent ceasefire in Gaza
Lift the siege of Gaza
End all USA aid to Israel
End Israeli occupation of Palestine
End criminalization of speech in support of Palestine
Free all political prisoners in Israeli prisons
Reparations and reconstruction for Gaza
The WCJP was formed on Oct 8 in response to Israel’s declaration of war on the Palestinian people in Gaza, where civilian deaths and injuries have reached a level without historic precedent. The UN Secretary-General declared, “Palestinians in Gaza are suffering a humanitarian catastrophe. Almost 1.7 million people have been forced from their homes – but nowhere is safe.”
The UN Executive Director on Women, Sima Bahous, estimates 67% of the civilians killed are women and children. She concluded, “Women and girls are paying the biggest price. Two mothers were killed every hour, seven women every two hours.” Thousands of women deliver babies in Gazan hospitals without adequate water, medicines, or energy to power medical equipment. Women undergo dangerous c-sections without anesthesia or antibiotics. No incubators or formula are available for the hundreds of babies who lost their mothers.
Half of all housing units in Gaza are damaged or destroyed by US-supplied planes flown by the Israeli military, with more than a million people internally displaced. President Biden signed off on brutal bombing campaigns, including targeting the remaining Gazan hospitals housing refugees, and injured and ill people. This inhumane destruction inflicted on a civilian population must end.
For seventy-five years, the government of Israel forcibly expanded an apartheid regime, destroying Palestinian homes and villages, stealing Palestinian land, and segregating and fragmenting Palestinian families and communities. Palestinians are killed with impunity, leaving the entire populace in a state of constant fear and insecurity.
This year, under the most racist, far-right government in Israeli history, the theft of Palestinian lands accelerated at a furious pace. Heavily armed Jewish settlers, living in hundreds of illegal settlements on stolen lands, killed countless Palestinians and terrorized communities, while Israeli Occupation Forces protected the aggressors. Israeli forces repeatedly storm the holiest Christian and Muslim sites in Jerusalem. These wanton human rights abuses must stop!
The events of October 7, 2023, did not happen in a vacuum. They were the result of decades of brutal oppression, starvation, surveillance, imposed poverty, mass incarceration, and frequent bombardment. Resistance to oppression is not terrorism. The United Nations affirms the right to self-determination and the right to a people under foreign occupation to resist the occupiers. Palestinians fight for liberation, self-determination, and the right to return to their land. The Palestinian struggle is akin to the Black struggle in apartheid South Africa. The actions of the Israeli government are akin to the US Government’s treatment of the Native American population. Seventy-five years of oppressive occupation must end!
While the Israeli government wages a genocidal war in Gaza under the guidance of the Biden administration and with the support of most Wisconsin Senators and Representatives, we stand in solidarity to demand change. We stand in unity to say “Never again for anyone!” We stand together to demand our federal and state representatives position themselves on the right side of history.
Special interests and lobbies must not displace the just demands of the public. We stand in solidarity with the just struggle of the Palestinian people and in recognition of the tens of thousands of Palestinians killed to maintain Israel’s brutal apartheid system. We are a broad representation of Wisconsin people who will not rest until Palestine is free – from the river to the sea!
Here are the latest diary entries of a friend in Rafah, Gaza. Her name is Hudia. I receive them whenever there is an internet connection. They speak louder than all the articles I’ve sent put together…
— Jennifer Loewenstein
DECEMBER 5, 2023
I don’t know if my message will reach you today. They cut off communications and Internet from Gaza. The situation here is now even more terrifying since they started operations in the south.
The bombing doesn’t stop for a second. The firing of missiles & rockets happens around the clock. The artillery shelling is endless, too. Its sound is horrific. Where we are in Rafah is close to the eastern border of Gaza. We do not sleep because of the intensity of the bombing. The bombing of homes over the heads of those who live in them has become Israel’s preferred method of killing. Fear for the lives of everyone has crept into me. It haunts all my waking moments.
They ask people to leave so they die on the way to displacement, and if they manage to arrive, they die in the areas they reach. Rafah has now become overwhelmed with displaced people from Khan Yunis as well as the north. There is no place for them in shelter centers. People sleep in the streets. Literally, there is nothing here except the pervasive smell of death. I do not know how we will end up.
No. I know.
We can’t find anything anymore. There is nothing left in the markets. I can no longer find my blood pressure medication in pharmacies. In fact, there is nothing in pharmacies, markets, or supermarkets. Life has become difficult beyond description. Here, my brother Hisham was able, after a great effort, to find a medication similar to what I take which, I hope, is better than nothing at all.
Honestly, though, cutting off communications and the Internet hurts me more than the war itself. I cannot check on my family or friends. I remain tense every time I hear the sound of bombing. I do not know if they are alive or dead. I feel like I will lose my balance and collapse at any moment. The situation is unbelievable.
No one would believe we are supposed to be living here. It is a slaughter house; a last stop on the train taking us to our deaths. Let them kill us all at once! This would be merciful now.
We are tired. We are tired of losing more and more people every day, hour, and minute. Walk around Rafah and you see huge bomb craters filled with human debris. Is this really my home? Endless destruction and seeing children in pieces. It is unspeakable.
There is nothing left in north Gaza: homes, people, or life.
Diseases have begun to spread among children, including gastroenteritis owing to air pollution, undrinkable water, and a collapsed sewage system because there is no fuel. You don’t want to imagine what this means in real terms here, and for two million people. The lines, the filth, the sadness, and yes – the smell.
The children have yellow faces – full of sickness and fear. They cry into their mothers’ laps during the bombings. They look thin and sickly from terror and trauma. By destroying the healthcare system Israel has destroyed any return to a semblance of real life.
A sad joke is going around. After the occupation’s aggression against Gaza, when a violent earthquake strikes a place, reporters will say: “It is as if an Israeli bombing struck the place.”
Director of UNRWA Operations in Gaza:
Even in Rafah, where people are forced to flee, the sounds of air strikes punctuate the day.People are crying for help to get a safe place. We have nothing to say to them.
DECEMBER 6, 2023
Gaza City and northern Gaza are completely annihilated, with only rare media coverage. The central part of the Gaza Strip is now annihilated by hunger, & high prices; its supplies of vegetables and goods were cut off after the south was separated from the central governorate.
In addition, it is being bombarded relentlessly day and night. Khan Yunis – the southern section of Gaza – is also being destroyed by displacement and continuous bombing. Rafah is bombed around the clock (I’m counting 8-12 seconds between bombs) and has received newly displaced people from Khan Yunis, but where are they supposed to go?
People sleep in tents and in the streets or in the shadows of shuttered businesses. The sounds of artillery, air and sea bombardment, and tank shells echo across the Gaza Strip from Rafah to Beit Hanoun. It’s a constant rush in your ears. There is no escape.
This situation requires no political, military, or strategic analysts. No sermon about steadfastness from leaders and media are going to help us right now. Gaza is absolutely no longer fit for life and it makes sense because I don’t think we are are alive. We are ghosts and we should go and haunt the world revealing what has happened to us.
Whole families have been tossed grieving along the streets. Shelter centers and schools are overflowing with broken, displaced people. Most stores have shut their doors because they’re empty of any supplies. What remains is small and non-essential. Prices are astronomical and crazy.
Lines from wherever there are any goods at all – long, long lines where you are stuck waiting for half the day.
Exhausted refugees are wearing filthy clothing (where can we wash dirty laundry?) Most of the women are in their prayer dresses. Wood burning stoves fill the main streets. Everything is cooked on wood fires now and they fill the air with smoke. The ground around them is blackened and peoples faces are blackened. This is a preview of the apocalypse: yes, right here in Gaza you can witness what the end of the world will look like.
As you walk, you pass faces of those who used to be proud and generous but are now humiliated and betrayed. They half-whisper, brokenly, in your ear: “I swear, I am not a beggar. But I was displaced from my home here and here. My family and children have nothing to eat. If you give me five shekels…”
This is only part of the picture, which is getting darker, more unbearable, and more painful every day with the siege and death. I do not know if death is worse than what people are experiencing now. What new, unthinkable circumstance will be thrown our way tomorrow? It’s too horrible to contemplate. I want to run away…
In a Powerful Letter to the Biden Administration, Five U.S. Senators Make a Strong Case for Halting U.S. Arms Sales to Israel Until Protections are in Place. Ceasefire Now!
While activists and pro-Palestinian humanitarian organizations are urgently calling for a ceasefire to save lives in Gaza, several U.S. Senators are questioning the billions of dollars of U.S. military aid proposed to go directly to the ongoing Israeli war in Gaza.
“Israel must do more to protect civilians in Gaza. I’m leading Senate Democrats in a letter to the Biden administration seeking answers and stronger oversight to ensure any use of U.S. weapons complies with U.S. and international laws,” said Senator Elizabeth Warren.
So yes, this week a group of Senators, including Warren and Senator Bernie Sanders, expressed deep concern about how American weapons are being used against Palestinian civilians in possible violation of international law.
In a strongly-worded, and well-documented, eight-page letter to President Joe Biden, the Senators want the administration to give information and show accountability that ensures any future use of U.S. weapons is by U.S. policy and international law.
The letter, also signed by Senators Jeff Merkley, Tim Kaine, and Martin Heinrich, noted that in response to the Hamas attack on Oct 7th, the Israeli government has killed over 15,000 Palestinians in Gaza, the vast majority of whom are civilians.
In a recent speech, Senator Sanders underlined the points made in the letter:
At a time when some 16,000 Palestinians have been killed in the last 2 months, two-thirds women and children, & 1.8 million displaced from their homes, NO. I don’t think it’s a good idea to hand another $10 billion to Israel’s right-wing extremist government with no strings attached.
We salute the Senators in their letter to President Biden scrutinizing U.S. military aid to the right-wing Netanyahu government without clear accountability on the question of war crimes and violations of international law. The letter ends with 13 questions for the Biden administration that the Senators want answered by December 20th.
Not to mince words, we at PDA believe there is already ample evidence that U.S. military aid has been deployed by the Israeli military in actions that result in the indiscriminate killing of civilians in Gaza, and other violations of U.S. and International law. That is why we in PDA along with hundreds of other organizations, continue to call for a permanent ceasefire, and why we also support a moratorium on further military aid to Israel until a fail-safe system is in place to ensure that it will only be used in compliance with U.S. and International law.
War is not the answer, and certainly the continuing mass slaughter and inhumane treatment of the Palestinian population in Gaza will only lead to a more dire humanitarian catastrophe.
Join us in our urgent call for a permanent CEASEFIRE!
Featured recently in the NYT, The Guardian, and The Forward.
About the film
When two young American Jews raised to unconditionally love Israel witness the brutal way Israel treats Palestinians, their lives take sharp left turns. They join a movement of young American Jews battling the old guard to redefine Judaism’s relationship with Israel, revealing a deepening generational divide over modern Jewish identity.
By a unanimous vote on Tuesday night, the Madison City Council passed a symbolic resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, joining the ranks of other local governments throughout the United States demanding an end to the conflict between Israel and Hamas.
The resolution calls for “an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and urgent political action to both de-escalate the crisis and to prioritize truth, reconciliation, restitution and the building of a future for the Palestinian and Israeli people.”
Ald. Nasra Wehelie, who is the author of the resolution, said that the Common Council received over 200 emails and 600 registrants in support of the resolution at the Tuesday meeting and their messages were overwhelmingly concerned with the fact that our tax dollars are used by Israel to kill innocent civilians in Gaza.
“Since October 7th, over 1,100 Israelis, including children, and 16,000 Palestinians have been killed. The statistics are incredibly disturbing as over 6,000 children have been killed in Gaza, millions have been displaced and thousands are still missing under the rubble,” said Wehelie, who represents Madison’s Southwest Side, in a statement.
“With the cold winter approaching, this death toll is expected to increase due to starvation and illness and lack of humanitarian aid. The collective punishment of a civilian population is against international law and we cannot allow innocent civilians in Gaza to be collateral damage in Israel’s bombings. As a mother and a community member who worked with youth, the imagery of children in Gaza has been nothing short of horrifying.”
At the Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis, ambulances brought dozens of wounded people in as Israel intensified its bombardment in and around Gaza’s second-largest city early Tuesday, sending ambulances and private cars carrying people wounded in a bloody new phase of the war.
The Madison City Council passed a symbolic resolution Tuesday night calling for a ceasefire in the war between Israel and Hamas, joining the ranks of other local governments throughout the country demanding an end to the conflict.
The council unanimously backed the call for a ceasefire following nearly an hour and a half of impassioned comment from residents who were overwhelmingly in support.
Many of the speakers were Palestinian residents of Madison, some of whom shared stories of relatives being killed by Israeli airstrikes in the densely populated enclave that is controlled by Hamas, an armed Palestinian militant group.
“I have no information about many of them in Gaza,” Madisonian Samir El-Omari said of his family members there.
Laurie Zimmerman, a rabbi at Shaarei Shamayim, said her faith taught her “to not stand idly by” while innocent civilians are killed by the Israeli military.
“The destruction of Gaza has caused suffering on such a massive scale it is hard to comprehend,” Zimmerman said.
Ald. Nasra Wehelie, who represents the Southwest Side and proposed the resolution, charged the Israeli military with “a collective punishment on the civilian population of Gaza.”
“It’s important that we use our voices as policy makers to stand up for justice,” Wehelie said of the war, noting that city governments from Seattle to Detroit have also backed the call for a ceasefire.
Some residents Tuesday night criticized the council’s resolution for not explicitly condemning Hamas’ violent incursion into Israel on Oct. 7 that saw about 1,200 Israeli civilians and soldiers killed and about 240 others kidnapped into Gaza, triggering Israel’s ongoing invasion and bombing.
The resolution didn’t directly condemn Israel’s actions in the war either but rather called for “political action to both de-escalate the crisis and to prioritize truth, reconciliation, restitution and the building of a future for the Palestinian and Israeli people.”
Jeremy Tunis, who sits on the board of directors of the Jewish Federation of Madison, called the resolution “pathetic.”
“Hamas unleashed a genocidal attack on Oct. 7,” Tunis said. “Any country in the world would have a right to respond in the way that Israel did.”
In addition to the call for a ceasefire, the council backed a statement condemning antisemitism and Islamophobia.
“While we’ve just passed a resolution that is primarily a subject of foreign affairs, I want to make sure that our council, with our finite resources and time, is prepared to do the work necessary here at home to keep our communities safe and free from hate,” said Ald. Regina Vidaver, who represents the Near West Side in District 5.
Housing, density boosted
In other business, the council made an interim update to the city’s 2018 comprehensive plan Tuesday night. The updated plan mirrors land-use and streets recommendations from 17 area and neighborhood development plans adopted in the past five years. Notably, the update now allows for buildings up to 12 stories to be built on parts of Regent Street.
The council also finalized $11.3 million in funding from the city’s Affordable Housing Fund for five low-cost housing projects. The funding secures about 300 low-income units across Neighborhood House Apartments on the Near West Side, and the Ellis Park Apartments, University Park Commons II, the Yellowstone Apartments, and Merchant Place Apartments, all between Midvale Boulevard and Gammon Road on the West Side.
More than 50 members of the U.S. House of Representatives have called for a permanent cease-fire to end the death and destruction in Gaza and to forge a path for the long-term resolution of the conflict between Israel and Palestine. So, too, have three U.S. senators.
They have recognized the importance of condemning the horrors associated with the Oct. 7 attack on Israel by Hamas and the Israeli bombing campaign that has targeted Gaza. They want to see the release of all hostages. And they believe, correctly we think, that this crisis will not be resolved without a cease-fire.
While we know that many of these officials have been moved to speak up by the call of conscience, we recognize that encouragement from constituents can move members to make bolder and more public stands. That’s why it matters when city councils endorse ceasefire resolutions, as Madison council members proposed to do this week. And that’s why we hope councils, village boards, town boards and county boards across Wisconsin will join local government bodies across the country in urging federal officials to support a humane and necessary cease-fire.
Wisconsin U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan is already a cease-fire proponent. But Sens. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, and Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, need to know where Wisconsinites stand, and resolutions passed at the grassroots level deliver an important message on behalf of peace and justice.
Share your opinion on this topic by sending a letter to the editor to email@example.com. Include your full name, hometown and phone number. Your name and town will be published. The phone number is for verification purposes only. Please keep your letter to 250 words or less.
MADISON (WKOW) — Members of Madison’s Common Council had the conflict in the Middle East on their minds Tuesday night as they approved a resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza and a separate resolution that condemns Antisemitism and Islamophobia.
The resolution on the ceasefire calls for “an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and urgent political action to both de-escalate the crisis and to prioritize truth, reconciliation, restitution, and the building of a future for the Palestinian and Israeli people.”
The measure also urges support for the immediate release of all hostages.
The resolution condemning Antisemitism and Islamophobia says the crisis in the Middle East is “creating fear and distress throughout the United States and our local community.” It also points out an increase in Antisemitism and Islamophobia since the Israel-Hamas war began.
The resolution declares the Madison Common Council is dedicated to fostering a community that embraces diversity and upholds the principles of equity and human rights and that the council recognizes the importance of creating a community where every resident can live free from fear and discrimination.