Protesters calling for U.S. support of a ceasefire in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, and an end to the “ongoing atrocities against Palestinians,” occupied a building in the U.S. Capitol complex on Wednesday, with thousands gathering outside of the Capitol.
Following a brutal attack by Hamas militants against Israeli civilians last week, Israel has launched a retaliatory counteroffensive, and resource blockade, that has killed thousands of Palestinians — millions more remain effectively trapped in the Gaza Strip, with no end to the conflict in sight. President Biden has so far pledged near unconditional support to Israel.
On Wednesday Hundreds of protesters organized by Jewish Voice for Peace and If Not Now, two Jewish activist groups opposed to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories, staged a sit-in inside the rotunda of the Cannon House office building. Many of the protesters sported shirts with the phrase “Not In Our Name,” and displayed several banners in support of a ceasefire.
Capitol Police reportedly arrested hundreds of protesters, many of them Jewish, removing them one by one from the seated crowd occupying the rotunda.
“The only path to peace and safety — for everyone — is through ensuring justice and equality for everyone. And that means ending the Israeli government’s illegal occupation of Palestine. To end genocide against Palestinians in Gaza, we’re demanding a #ceasefirenow,” Jewish Voice For Peace wrote on X (formerly Twitter).
Republicans in Congress jumped at the opportunity to claim that the protest was equivalent to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, in which Trump supporters angered by his election loss violently forced their way into the building and attempted to prevent the certification of President Joe Biden’s election.
“There’s an insurrection happening now on Capitol Hill,” Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) wrote on X. Greene has previously been linked to efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election and, as previously reported by Rolling Stone, met with organizers of the Jan. 6 rallies that preceded the riot.
While Greene and her colleagues were evacuated from the Capitol on Jan. 6, on Wednesday members were allowed to move about the Capitol freely as the protest was cleared. The House Sergeant at Arms issued a notice that “due to First Amendment activities on Capitol Grounds, all pedestrian entry points to the House Office Buildings are restricted to Members and Staff ONLY,” and redirected visitors to another entry.
Greene live-streamed herself just outside of the building where the protest was being held and verbally sparred with protesters in the area and through the open doorway, which had been blocked off by police.
In an interview with Real America’s Voice while the protest was ongoing, Greene claimed that “our country is going to have a terrorist attack.
“We’re going to have it on our land, and it’s Joe Biden and his administration’s fault,” she said.
Earlier in the afternoon the two groups hosted a rally outside of the Capitol where progressive lawmakers, including Palestinian-American Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) addressed the crowd and called for an end to the violence.
“I think the White House and everyone thinks that we’re just going to sit back and let this just continue to happen? No.” Tlaib said, calling on those present to continue speaking out against the oppression of Palestinians living under Israeli control.
If Now Now responded to Greene’s accusations that the protest was an insurrection. “You wouldn’t know what an insurrection was, even if you helped plan one,” they wrote on X, adding “Oh wait.”