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Early on Saturday morning, members of the terrorist organization Hamas launched an unprecedented attack against the nation of Israel, leading to the killing of hundreds of Israelis and Palestinians.
Militants launched rockets and parachuted in from the sky as a hellish scene unfolded in towns along the Israeli-Gaza border.
Over the course of the day, Hamas terrorists would bomb, shoot and burn their way through Israeli neighborhoods. Nearly 1,000 are dead – including dozens of children – and many fear that number could still rise.
These same Hamas terrorists have also reportedly taken scores of Israelis, Americans and other European citizens hostage. Video footage from throughout the region show people being snatched by men with guns, thrown into the back of pickups and driven off. Reports of heinous acts, including rape, burnings and beheadings now surface regularly.
But as the unconscionable brutality plays out across television screens and social media platforms, inaccuracies and misinformation spreading throughout the United States are quickly overshadowing the complexities of the current conflict.
As a result, many are now labeling Palestinian Americans as “terrorist sympathizers” or worse for supporting their homeland. This despite years of Palestinians and Israelis speaking out together for the cause of peace.
Conservatives target Palestinian-American Congresswoman as terror attacks quickly become politicized
Rashida Tlaib is the first Palestinian-American woman to serve in the United States Congress. Tlaib, a Democrat representing the Detroit, Michigan area, is often an outspoken critic of the Israeli government.
In a statement about the attacks, Tlaib said she “grieves” the loss of life in both Palestine and Israel.
“I am determined as ever to fight for a just future where everyone can live in peace, without fear and with true freedom, equal rights and human dignity,” Tlaib’s statement goes on to say.
Many conservatives were quick to condemn Tlaib’s comments as being “sympathetic to Hamas”.
An article in the right-leaning publication ‘The Washington Examiner’ even went so far as to criticize Tlaib for having the flag of her ancestry outside of her office.
“Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) still has a Palestinian flag hanging outside of her House office after the invasion of Israel by Hamas, during which hundreds of Israelis and some Americans were killed,” the opening line of the article reads.
The response is part of a growing amount of disinformation that paints Palestine and Hamas as one-in-the-same.
Hamas not reflective of the views and beliefs of all Palestinians
The Palestinian people are descendants of the Philistines and have called the Holy Land home for nearly a millennium. The nations of Palestine and Israel both formed in the wake of World War II, after the British rule ended.
Since then, political tensions and violence have marred the region and repeated attempts at peace talks fell short.
For more than four decades, Palestine was unified in its strive to find a two-state solution and become independent. That changed in the 2006 parliamentary elections, when a political party known as Hamas won control of the country’s legislature.
With just over 44% of the vote, Hamas captured roughly 55% of the country’s legislative seats.
The 2006 election remains the last time Palestinians had the chance to vote on which party leads the nation. It marked a significant split, with Hamas controlling much of Gaza and the opposition party, Fatah, controlling the West Bank.
Since then, violence between the two nations has only increased. At the same time, recent polls show Palestinian support for Hamas hovering just around 50%, with nearly half disapproving.
Palestinian and Israeli civilians will continue to suffer as the war with Hamas drags on
Palestinian people, particularly those in Gaza, have experienced significant losses since Hamas took hold of power nearly two decades ago. Those losses are amplified amid the group’s most recent terror attacks.
Gaza residents, who are effectively barred from crossing the border by the Israeli government, are likely to endure the brunt of Israel’s military response to the Hamas attacks.
Since the attacks, Israel has carried out multiple air assaults on Gaza. Nearly 200,000 Palestinians in Gaza have already been displaced from their homes.
In addition to air strikes, the Israeli government announced Monday it would cut off food, water and electricity into the area; a decision that has been met with international criticism.
In addition to condemning the attacks by Hamas militants, the UN Human Rights chief also condemned the harshness of Israel’s response against civilian Palestinians.
A spokesman for the UN echoed those concerns, stating “UNICEF is extremely alarmed about measures to cut electricity, to cut food, to cut water, to cut fuel from entering Gaza.”
“This will add another layer of suffering to the existing catastrophe faced by families in Gaza,” they added.
Israel’s counter-offensive continued Tuesday, with the Israeli Defense Forces claiming it has struck more than 1,300 Hamas targets in Gaza. Several schools, health centers, and public places have also been impacted by the bombing.
A growing number Palestinians and Israelis have urged both governments to find a path toward peace
This escalating war between Israel and Hamas rages on almost exactly five months after an annual call for peace.
In May of this year, 15,000 Palestinians and Israelis gathered in Tel Aviv to urge leaders of both nations to find a path forward that averted more war and more death.
Bassam Aramin, a Palestinian whose daughter was killed in 2007, helped organize the “Combatants for Peace” rally.
Aramin warned in May that “violence only begets violence.”
“It’s possible to use our pain in a different way,” he said. “Not just to continue preparing our kids to kill and to be killed.”
“I don’t even think about revenge because we need to co-exist.”