Palestinian Americans Detained in Gaza: Families Urge US Government to Intervene

Families of Palestinian American detainees in Gaza demand action from the US government as their loved ones remain in Israeli custody.

Three Palestinian Americans, including two young cousins, have been detained by Israeli forces in Gaza. The families of the detainees are calling on the United States government to take immediate action to ensure their safety and secure their release. As the war in Gaza continues, the families have gathered in Washington, DC, to hold a press conference, highlighting the urgent need for intervention.

Abduction and Detention of Palestinian Americans

Yasmeen Elagha, a law student at Northwestern University, received a distressing phone call from her aunt in Gaza, informing her that her two cousins, Borak Alagha and Hashem Alagha, had been abducted by Israeli soldiers. The cousins, along with their father, uncle, and two other male relatives, were taken away without any charges. The family’s shelter was ransacked, and their car tires were slashed. Yasmeen Elagha has been desperately seeking information about their well-being but has received only a confirmation of her appeal from the US government.

Lack of Consular Assistance and Concerns for Health

Suliman Hamed’s mother, Samaher Esmail, a Palestinian American, was detained in the occupied West Bank. Despite being a US citizen, she has not received any consular assistance or visits from US embassy officials since her arrest. Hamed is deeply concerned about his mother’s health, as she has been denied access to her medication. Esmail was arrested on allegations of “incitement on social media,” but her family believes she was targeted in retaliation for a lawsuit she filed against the Israeli military. The lack of consular support has caused significant distress for Hamed and his family.

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Allegations of Enforced Disappearances and Abuse

Since the start of the war in Gaza, there have been numerous reports of enforced disappearances, abuse, and torture at the hands of Israeli forces. The United Nations Human Rights office for the occupied Palestinian territories has documented cases of detainees being beaten, humiliated, and subjected to ill-treatment. Families of those in custody fear for their loved ones’ safety and well-being, given the rampant allegations of torture. Yasmeen Elagha expressed concern for her cousins, imagining the torture they may be facing. Suliman Hamed shared that his mother’s lawyer had described bruises on her arms and back, indicating possible mistreatment by Israeli forces.

Inadequate Response from the US Government

The families of the detainees have criticized the United States government for its insufficient response. They argue that the Biden administration has not followed the proper protocol for situations where US citizens are taken hostage or forcibly disappeared. Maria Kari, an immigration lawyer working with the Alagha family, stated that the Israeli soldiers’ actions violated domestic US laws and international laws. The families believe that consular access should have been granted immediately, and they expected the president and the State Department to be actively engaged in resolving the situation. The lack of a timely response from the US government has left the families feeling neglected and ignored.

Calls for Reevaluation of US Support for Israel

Suliman and Ibrahim Hamed, brothers from Gretna, Louisiana, have questioned the US government’s unwavering support for Israel, particularly in light of the allegations of human rights abuses in Gaza and the West Bank. They believe that their community is being denied justice and that their tax dollars are funding the imprisonment of innocent Palestinians. The Hamed siblings also raised concerns about potential bias in the US government’s response, questioning whether the embassy would have acted differently if they were white Christian or Israeli Americans.

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The detention of Palestinian Americans in Gaza has raised urgent concerns about their safety and well-being. The families of the detainees are demanding immediate action from the US government to secure their release. They are also calling for a reevaluation of the US’s support for Israel, considering the alleged human rights abuses taking place in the region. As the families anxiously await news about their loved ones, they hope that their voices will be heard and that the US government will take decisive action to protect its citizens abroad.