WASHINGTON – Delaware Rep. Madinah Wilson-Anton, D-Newark, joined lawmakers from several states Monday to begin a five-day hunger strike urging President Joe Biden to call for a permanent cease-fire in Gaza.
The strategy comes just over two weeks after nearly 2,000 individuals marched to President Biden’s Greenville home Nov. 11 to support the Palestinian people and demand a ceasefire as the Israel-Hamas war raged on.
In a press conference outside of the White House on Monday, Rep. Wilson-Anton, D-Newark, recognized the urgency for individuals living in and outside of President Biden’s home state to let their voices be heard in hopes of ending the destruction.
“I find it to be very important for me to step up for my community, the Delaware Muslim community and Delawareans of conscience to escalate tactics as we’re coming out of the Thanksgiving holiday weekend to refocus our efforts… to bring attention to the utter destruction and mass protests that have been taking place in Gaza,” said Rep. Wilson-Anton, who was the first Muslim person elected to Delaware’s General Assembly.
The Qatari government, which has attempted to mediate the conflict in the region, announced Monday that the four-day humanitarian pause in the war would be extended two additional days following an agreement between the Israeli government and Hamas.
Since the four-day pause began, 58 hostages have been released by Hamas - 39 of whom were Israeli – and 117 Palestinians have been released from Israeli prison, per the Associated Press.
Joining Delaware’s state representative in the hunger strike are New York state Rep. Zohran Mamdani, who organized the campaign; Oklahoma state Rep. Mauree Turner; Virginia state Rep. Sam Rasoul and community leaders like Amani Al-Khatahtbeh, founder of Muslim Girl magazine, and Iman Abid, policy director for the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights.
Also partaking in the hunger strike is actress and activist Cynthia Nixon, who said that, as the mother of Jewish children whose parents are Holocaust survivors, her family has asked her to use her platform to affirm that “never again means never again for everyone.”
Ms. Nixon then proceeded to list several statistics related to the result of the Israel-Hamas war, including how the unprecedented bombing and killing of civilians has resulted in 14,850 deaths in Gaza and 1,200 in Israel – 70% of which are women and children.
To date, she said, the death toll includes 102 United Nations relief workers, which is the highest number of any conflict in history; 57 journalists; and more than 200 medical personnel. Bombings have also resulted in the destruction of 45 ambulances, more than 100 health-care facilities and 45% of the buildings in Gaza.
“In seven weeks, Israel has killed more civilians on a tiny strip of land than was killed in 20 years of war in the entire country of Afghanistan,” Ms. Nixon said.
“I am sick and tired of people explaining this away by saying that civilian casualties are a routine toll of war. There is nothing routine about these figures. There is nothing routine about these deaths.”
Addressing the crowd Monday, Rep. Wilson-Anton noted that, while she is anxious to begin the hunger strike, the difference is that the coalition of partaking lawmakers and activists have a choice, while civilians in Gaza do not.
“I know that when I’m done striking, I have a refrigerator with food in it, I know that I’ll have a roof over my head and I’ll be secure,” she said. “I think it’s really important for us that when we’re gathering on a day like this, we focus on just how destructive this massacre is to the lives of Gazans of all ages, especially the children.”
Rep. Wilson-Anton has been on the forefront of calls for a cease-fire following Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel. In addition to the hunger strike, she served as an organizer of the march to President Biden’s house and extended support for a cease-fire resolution introduced by Wilmington City Councilmember Shané Darby and later passed Nov. 16.
On social media, Rep. Wilson-Anton has urged Delaware’s federal delegation of U.S. Rep. Lisa Blunt-Rochester and U.S. Sens. Tom Carper and Chris Coons, all Democrats, to also call for a cease-fire and has since expanded her efforts to those running for the state’s seats in Congress next fall.
“It’s important for anyone who is representing their communities to speak up. A lot of our public officials at the federal level are not reacting to that and are not receptive or responsive to their constituents,” she said.
“I think it’s really helpful to them when they hear folks that are in elected office who represent their communities speak up on the issue. We’ve seen it be successful within the past few weeks, pushing the narrative in a direction for a humanitarian ceasefire and away from warmongering, so I think it’s important that all of us are true to the responsibility we have.”
While Rep. Wilson-Anton said she hoped the conflict would end by the time lawmakers return to Dover in January, she plans on introducing a resolution to call for a permanent ceasefire should the destruction continue.
Staff reporter Joe Edelen can
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