Hamas, the Islamist group that rules Gaza, excoriated on Friday U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar’s remarks equating the militant organization's actions with those of Israel.
“The remarks made by U.S. congresswoman Ilhan Omar are very peculiar; she equated the victim and the executioner when she treated the resistance of the Palestinian people, the Israeli crimes in Palestine, and the U.S. aggression in Afghanistan as on equal footing,” Basem Naim, a Hamas spokesperson, wrote on the group’s website.
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“Hamas highly appreciates Omar’s stances in support of justice and the rights of the oppressed around the world, foremost among them is the just rights of the Palestinian people. However, it is unacceptable to make such an unfair comparison, which contradicts with basic norms of justice and international law.”
Last Monday, Omar, an outspoken critic of Israel, tweeted a video of an exchange with Secretary of State Anthony Blinken in which she affirmed her support for an International Criminal Court investigation into both Israel and Hamas’ actions during the latest round of fighting between the two sides.
“We have seen unthinkable atrocities committed by the U.S., Hamas, Israel, Afghanistan, and the Taliban. I asked Secretary Blinken where people are supposed to go for justice,” she wrote, echoing earlier criticism of Israel’s conduct during the conflict.
Last month, Omar was one of three Democratic members of Congress who drafted a resolution aimed at blocking a pending $735 million arms sale of precision-guided missiles to Israel.
In a statement to Haaretz, Omar wrote that it was “unconscionable that, in the middle of a violent conflict that has taken the lives of over 200 people, including over 60 children, that we would continue to sell weapons to one of the parties committing those human rights abuses.”
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During the 11-day conflict, Hamas fired 4,340 rockets at Israel, with the IDF retaliating by attacking more than 1,500 targets in the Gaza Strip. 261 people were killed in the fighting.
In response to her comments supporting an ICC investigation, a group of 12 Jewish Democratic lawmakers condemned Omar in a joint statement last Thursday, calling on her to “clarify her words placing the U.S. and Israel in the same category as Hamas and the Taliban,” which they described as offensive and misguided.”
Such a statement of equivalence “at best discredits one’s intended argument and at worst reflects deep-prejudice,” they asserted.
In response, Omar declared that she had been inquiring regarding “accountability for specific incidents regarding those ICC cases” and “was in no way equating terrorist organizations with democratic countries with well-established judicial systems.”
Her critics, she claimed, were peddling offensive “Islamophobic tropes.”
Senior Democrats, led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, welcomed the clarification of her comments, stating that “drawing false equivalencies” between democracies and designated terrorist groups “foments prejudice and undermines progress toward a future of peace and security for all.”
Ben Samuels contributed to this report.