While Israel plans to resume its intensive bombing campaign of civilians and civil infrastructure in Gaza after the current pause to swap hostages from both sides, a group of state legislators and community leaders, including Delaware state Rep. Madinah Wilson-Anton, has announced a hunger strike action in Washington, DC.
At a press conference today on Lafayette Square outside the White House a coalition of Jewish, Palestinian, and racial justice organizations were joined by prominent Muslim, Jewish, and allied leaders and state legislators from NY, DE, OK, and VA, to announce the hunger strike action calling for a permanent cessation of hostilities and no further military funding to Israel.
Along with Rep. Wilson-Anton, the two-term Democrat from Bear, DE, the group includes the actor and activist Cynthia Nixon, New York state Rep. Zohran Mamdani, organizer and former Congressional candidate in NY-12 Rana Abdelhamid, Sumaya Awad from the Adalah Justice Project, Iman Abid from the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights, as well as activists from Dream Defenders and Democratic Socialists of America.
The hunger strikers will also illustrate the policy of starvation that the Biden administration is supporting. Israel has publicly stated that it tightly controls food supplies into Gaza. In 2006, Dov Weissglas, then a senior advisor to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, explained that Israeli policy was designed “to put the Palestinians on a diet.”
Last week, the UN’s World Food Programme warned that civilians in Gaza face the “immediate possibility of starvation,” due to a lack of food, water, and fuel. The food that has entered the Gaza strip since October 21st only meets 7% of the population’s daily minimum caloric needs. All 130 bakeries in Gaza have faced a halt in production due to lack of fuel. Many bakeries in Gaza have been targets of Israeli missile attacks.
A recent poll found that 68% of all American voters support a ceasefire in Gaza with 80% of Democrats, 56% of Republicans, and 57% of Independents backing a permanent cessation of hostilities. Only 31% of voters support sending weapons to Israel. Despite this overwhelming support for a ceasefire among voters, President Biden has refused to call for a permanent end to the fighting.
When reached for comment, Wilson-Anton confirmed she will be participating in a multi-day hunger strike along with the other leaders from across the country.
In response to the common criticism that foreign policy isn’t in the purview of state elected officials, Wilson-Anton said, “it’s important for elected officials at all levels of government to use their platforms to elevate the issue of human rights. This issue is particularly salient because, as Americans, our tax dollars are going towards funding Israel’s war crimes and it’s important that we speak out against this.”
As of the publishing of this article no member of Delaware’s federal Congressional delegation has called for a ceasefire. Senator Chris Coons has publicly supported continued military funding for Israel.
On this topic Wilson-Anton was clear. “Delawareans need to continue to call into our federal delegation’s offices and call on them to support a permanent ceasefire. Tell them we want them to use their position to push President Biden to use his leverage as President to negotiate a permanent ceasefire.”
When asked about how far a regular citizen can and should go to lobby their elected representatives Wilson-Anton was unequivocal. “I think birddogging our federal delegation [directly challenging officials in public settings] should be commonplace. Business as usual should not be allowed to continue. When our congressional delegation goes out to coffee or parades around Delaware they should have to answer to Delawareans: why haven’t you called for a ceasefire? Elected officials should be held accountable for their actions and inactions. That is not unreasonable.”
Since October 7th, nearly 15,000 people have been confirmed killed in Gaza by Israeli strikes, including 6,100 children. Over 1,800 children are still missing. Thousands more Palestinians are expected to die of starvation, dehydration, injury, and disease due to the lack of clean water, medicines, and functioning hospitals. Also expected are further Palestinian casualties outside of Gaza due to increased Israeli military raids and Zionist settler terrorism in the occupied West Bank.