December 8, 2023

Palestinians are criticizing the United States government for not helping American citizens reportedly being injured and killed in attacks on Gaza.

The conflict has intensified following the initial October 7 attacks by the Palestinian militant group Hamas on Israel, which subsequently launched its heaviest-ever airstrikes against Gaza. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared war and has cut off food, fuel, electricity and medicine to Gaza.

As of Thursday, at least 3,478 people in Gaza and 1,400 people in Israel have been killed in the conflict, according to the Associated Press.

Ahmed Shihab-Eldin, an American-Kuwaiti journalist of Palestinian descent, interviewed an 18-year-old American citizen, Youssef Abushaaban, reportedly stuck in Gaza. His sibling was allegedly killed.

“I heard the airstrike. I went to the ground floor to find the strike was at our doorstep. My sister was killed,” said Abushaaban, holding a U.S. passport in his hands, in a video posted to X, formerly Twitter. “Our home has two floors. We heard an explosion. Suddenly, the explosion hit the door of the ground floor.

“I’m an American. I got my passport and called the consulate. We tried to leave and contacted the [U.S.] State Department/embassy. No one is answering us.”

The U.S. Office of Palestinian Affairs warned individuals in an October 11 travel advisory to avoid traveling to Gaza “due to terrorism, civil unrest and armed conflict” caused by “terrorist groups, lone-actor terrorists and other violent extremists.” Individuals should also reconsider traveling to Israel and the West Bank.

Newsweek reached out to the U.S. Office of Palestinian Affairs and the U.S. State Department via email, with the latter declining to comment.

Abed Ayoub is the national executive director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), the largest Arab American grassroots civil rights organization in the U.S. He told Newsweek that the U.S. government has overall failed in its response to this escalating situation, alluding to the case of Abushaaban and the number of hate crimes and threats being made domestically.

One of those hate crimes, as described by the DOJ and U.S. Attorney Merrick Garland, is related to the stabbings of 6-year-old Wadea al-Fayoume and his mother, Hanaan Shahin, allegedly by their landlord in Plainfield, Illinois. The young boy died from the attack.

“[The situation] could have been handled much better…The [Biden] administration and the media all play a significant role in the Palestinian-Arab narrative and making it seem like we’re all bad,” Aboud said. “It’s like a complete erasure of our people in the United States and a complete silencing of our voices.”

That is in reference to reports that MSNBC purposefully kept Muslim anchors Mehdi Hasan, Ayman Mohyeldin and Ali Velshi off the air and from covering the Middle East war. MSNBC and NBC News have denied such claims.

Gaza palestine Israel War Middle East
Relatives and friends mourn a young Palestinian man on October 19, 2023, in Khan Yunis, Gaza. The U.S. government is being criticized for not helping Americans allegedly stuck in Gaza.
Ahmad Hasaballah/Getty Images

Aboud added that the ADC has received an influx of complaints since October 7, including threats made in workplaces, on college campuses, and individuals who have been “doxxed” or targeted online based on their ethnicity or background and any statements or posts made regarding the Middle East.

“The cancel culture is really coming now towards the Palestinian-Arab voices,” said Aboud, who splits his time between Washington, D.C., and Dearborn, Michigan, which contains the highest Muslim population on average in the U.S.

“They’re doing their best to silence us. They’re pushing their tactics now to us,” he said. “This is probably the most egregious, violent attack on Palestinian lives in our lifetime for our generation. The prospect of not knowing [what can happen] is what’s scary. The lack of leadership in the United States is contributing to this and giving the green light to Israel for genocide.”

Asked what he and others would like to see President Joe Biden and his administration do, he said an immediate ceasefire would be an appropriate start.

That has already been proposed by progressive Democratic lawmakers, who earlier this week introduced legislation urging the administration to declare a ceasefire to further prevent the loss of innocent Israeli and Palestinian lives.

Aboud said the president can pick up the phone anytime, “but he’s not doing it.”

“If the president cannot push for a ceasefire, then it’s time to reevaluate this country’s position in the world…People don’t want a larger war,” he said. “Nobody in the U.S. has an appetite for war. We have our own problems domestically, and nobody wants to see this develop into something bigger.”

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