Hunger Strike outside White House Urges Ceasefire in Gaza

Hunger Strike outside White House Urges Ceasefire in Gaza

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – State lawmakers, Palestinian rights supporters, and actor Cynthia Nixon launched a five-day hunger strike outside the White House, pressing for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

At a news conference, they criticized US President Joe Biden's support of the Israeli offensive in Gaza and urged an end to the violence.

Despite growing demands for a ceasefire from activists, artists and politicians, as well as staff members working in the US government, Biden has remained firm in backing Israel, pledging over $14 billion in additional aid, which critics argue fuels the conflict.

The protesters at Monday’s event emphasized that public opinion favors a ceasefire and highlighted the extensive destruction in Gaza, where over 15,000 Palestinians have been killed. United Nations experts have warned that the conflict puts Palestinians “at grave risk of genocide“.

Iman Abid, from the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights (USCPR), questioned Biden's delay in calling for a ceasefire, asking, "How many more Palestinians must be killed?"

Last week, a four-day truce was declared, with officials extending it for an additional two days to facilitate the release of Israeli captives and Palestinian prisoners.

The hunger strikers emphasized that the ceasefire extension underscores the potential of diplomacy — not bombs — to resolve the crisis, contrasting it with the threat of escalated bombing by Israeli leaders once the pause ends.

Israeli leaders, however, have suggested that they will resume the bombing with more intensity once the truce expires, citing the area as a combat zone.

The hunger strike in Washington, DC, is a collaborative effort by Palestine solidarity advocates, progressive Jewish groups, and Arab and Palestinian-American organizations.

Here’s what some of the hunger-strikers at the White House had to say:

Best known for her run in the 2018 New York governor’s race, Nixon used her speech at Monday’s event to highlight the carnage in Gaza, including the killings of dozens of journalists and UN workers as well as the destruction of entire neighborhoods.

“Our president’s seeming disregard for the incredible human toll Israel’s far-right government is exacting on innocent civilians does not remotely reflect the desire of the overwhelming majority of Americans,” she said.

“We implore him that this current ceasefire must continue, and we must build off it to begin to negotiate a more permanent peace. We cannot keep letting American tax dollars aid and abet the killing and starvation of millions of Palestinians. ‘Never again’ means never again — for anyone.”

Wilson-Anton, a Muslim American legislator from Biden’s home state of Delaware, said that while she is anxious about abstaining from food for several days, her thoughts are with the people of Gaza who are experiencing a massacre with no choice or end in sight.

“The majority of Americans are for a permanent ceasefire. And it’s unfortunate that our president and our congressional members are not being responsive to what’s important to Delawareans and Americans from all states,” Wilson-Anton, a Democrat, said.

“And so I’m hoping that, this week, we’ll be successful in gaining the ear of our president and of our congressional members, so they can actually start to use their privilege and position to negotiate a ceasefire that is lasting.”

New York State Representative Zohran Mamdani hailed the release of Israelis held by Hamas and Palestinians imprisoned by Israel during the truce.

“We are hunger striking for a world where everyone is with their family. And it is a world that can only be made possible through a ceasefire. It is not war that brought us these reunifications. It is negotiations; it is a cessation (of hostilities),” he said.

“We hunger-strike not because we want to. We hunger-strike because we have been forced by this president and by our government’s foreign policy. We hunger-strike because Palestinians have been doubted in life and death, and their experience has been erased.”

Rana Abdelhamid, a New York organizer, linked the killing of Palestinians in Gaza to a rise in prejudice against Arabs and Muslims in the US. She pointed to Saturday’s shooting of three Palestinian students in a suspected hate crime as an example.

“As someone who has been organizing against hate-based violence across this country, I’m fully aware that the violence and the anti-Palestinian rhetoric that we’re seeing abroad is also impacting us here in the United States. Those two things are inextricably linked,” Abdelhamid said.

“When our elected (officials) and our politicians and our representatives are continuously dehumanizing Palestinian people, are normalizing Palestinian deaths, we get what we got two days ago. We get three Palestinian students in Vermont being shot for simply wearing a keffiyeh, for simply speaking Arabic.”

Palestinian-American writer and advocate Sumaya Awad stressed that the US is “complicit” in the ongoing violence against Palestinians. She added that the conflict also has domestic ramifications in the US.

“I’m Palestinian and I’m a New Yorker. I’m an American and I’m a mother of a 16-month-old, and I’m on hunger strike to illustrate to our government just a sliver, a fragment of what Palestinians are enduring in Gaza every single day,” Awad said.

“I am on hunger strike to demand a permanent ceasefire and to say that we will continue to pressure our government in every way possible to get that permanent ceasefire because we are not just silent observers. We are complicit in what is happening in Palestine.

“We are on hunger strike because what’s happening in Gaza is not something far away that we have nothing to do with. It has real impacts on our lives here in the US.”

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