Oct 17, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Progressives' pressure on Biden mounts after Gaza hospital blast

Rep. Rashida Tlaib (L) and fellow progressive Rep. Ilhan Omar. Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images; Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Progressive members of Congress are calling on President Biden to facilitate an end to the violence in the Hamas-Israel war.

Driving the news: After hundreds of people were killed in a blast on the al-Ahli hospital in Gaza City, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) called on Biden "to push for an immediate ceasefire to end this slaughter."

Context: Palestinian officials said the explosion was the result of an Israeli air strike. The Israel Defense Forces denied responsibility and blamed a failed rocket launch from Gaza.

What they're saying: "Bombing a hospital is among the gravest of war crimes," Omar said in an online post.

  • Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), the only Palestinian member of Congress, also addressed Biden online statement, saying, "This is what happens when you refuse to facilitate a ceasefire" and help de-escalate.
  • "Your war and destruction only approach has opened my eyes and many Palestinian Americans and Muslims Americans like me," Tlaib added. "We will remember where you stood."

The big picture: Criticism of Biden's unwavering support for Israel as the war with Hamas unfolds highlights long-simmering divisions among Democrats.

  • Comments by the high-profile, left-wing "Squad," which generally is more sympathetic to the Palestinian cause, have sparked internal backlash among the overwhelmingly pro-Israel Democratic Caucus, Axios' Andrew Solender and Eugene Scott report.
  • After Hamas launched its surprise terrorist attack on Israel, Squad members Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) called for an end to U.S. aid to Israel, while Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) called to end "unconditional" military aid. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) said "this heartbreaking cycle of violence will continue" unless the funds are cut off.

Of note: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) offered a more cautious response, criticizing Hamas' attacks and urging "de-escalation" between the two sides.

Meanwhile, Biden was preparing for his Wednesday visit to Israel to reaffirm U.S. solidarity amid the ongoing war against Hamas.

  • The unprecedented visit is the first by a U.S. president while Israel is actively at war.

Go deeper: Progressives press Biden on Israel's plans for Gaza

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