Protests gathered throughout the globe and even in the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday following a blast at a Gaza hospital that killed hundreds of Palestinian people amid the war between Israel and Hamas.
The protest in D.C. took place in the rotunda of the Cannon House office building. Protestors, led by activist groups Jewish Voice for Peace and IfNotNow, gathered in droves to call for a ceasefire in the Middle Eastern war — a war in which they argue Israel to be the aggressor.
Roughly 300 were arrested for breaching the facility as demonstrations are not permitted in congressional buildings.
Congressman Mike Ezell, R-Miss., whose office resides near where much of the action ensued, took exception to the outcry from demonstrators, accusing them of siding with Hamas, which initiated an attack on Israel on Oct. 7.
“Thousands of pro-Hamas protestors showed up on Capitol Hill. Many of them chose to break the law and were arrested in the Cannon House office building, not far from my office. Thankfully, my staff and I are okay,” Ezell said. “While I believe in the First Amendment, I condemn both the lawless actions and hateful rhetoric of these protestors. Anti-semitism and support for terrorism have no place on Capitol Hill or anywhere in the United States.”
Both sides have exchanged blame with Hamas accusing Israel of launching a targeted airstrike at the hospital. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu credited “barbaric terrorists” in Gaza for the explosion and denounced any suggestion that members of his defense force were involved.
Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., who serves as ranking member of the Armed Forces Committee, echoed Netanyahu’s sentiments, emphasizing his belief that Hamas’ ultimate objective is to wipe out the state of Israel.
“Let’s make this clear — Hamas does not want the people of Gaza to live side by side with their Israeli fellow humans in peace,” Wicker said. “The stated, written goal in black and white of the Hamas charter is the destruction of the Jewish race and the complete removal, off the face of the map, of the Israeli state.”
Wicker urged the White House to stand with Israel against Hamas, which he says is funded by the nation of Iran. The ranking Senator is calling on the federal government to arm Israel with more weaponry, including Tamir interceptor missiles for the nation’s Iron Dome system.
“We stand for what Israel has stood for now for seven and a half decades — a place where, finally, the children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob can live in a place where they’re safe and peaceful alongside people of different ethnic origins, just as people all around the world are asked to do,” Wicker added. “Hamas’ goal is the removal and death of every Israeli and Jew. Let’s remember that.”
Congress is unable to provide major aid to Israel, or any nation for that matter, with the current speaker situation.
As tensions continue to rise in the Middle East and more protests in the U.S. are expected to materialize, there have been elevated concerns of terror attacks on American soil with state officials across the country preparing for worst-case scenarios.
“Our governor has challenged our commissioner and he has challenged his staff to get on top of this and make sure that we are monitoring and doing everything that we can to mitigate any possible attacks here in the homeland of Mississippi,” Keith Davis, deputy commissioner of operations with the Mississippi Department of Public Safety, said. “I think Mississippi is in a good spot, but we can’t say that nothing is going to happen. We have to remain vigilant of that and we are certainly doing that.”