US Capitol Flooded By Pro-Palestine Protesters
Over 300 Protesters Arrested; Situation Politically Volatile
More than 300 people were arrested on Tuesday, October 18, for flooding the United States Capitol in protest of the Israel-Gaza War. Local reports stated that protesters had broken into the Cannon building in Washington, DC, and subsequently were arrested, as the world remains on high alert for escalations at political events linked to the Israel-Gaza war.
The protest began with the Jewish Voice for Peace Rally at the National Mall, where footage showed the speech made by Representative Rashida Tlaib, who emotionally addressed the crowd of protesters. Tlaib criticized President Biden for his public statement that the attack was attributed to PIJ.
The Capitol Police explained that it has made arrests at the Cannon Rotunda, in a social media post. Responding police stated that they had cleared the rotunda by 4pm local time, and that rolling road closures had continued. The police on scene explained that the group gathered to protest was not allowed within Congressional Buildings. When they were told to disperse, and refused, arrests began.
The House sergeant-at-arms issued a memo to Congress members that entry would be restricted to one-door, to control the flow of public entry, Axios reported.
Capitol police reportedly said that three out of the 300 people were arrested for assaulting responding police.
The protesters break in was called "reminiscent" of the attacks on the Capitol on January 6, 2021, when another gathering of embattled protesters broke into the Captiol to decry the election of President Joe Biden. The protest on October 18 was called by right-leaning Congress members an "act of insurrection" as these comparisons were made.
The incident comes at a time when American politics are contentious and volatile. This, coupled with a recent rise in violent rhetoric and calls for violent demonstrations in response to the Israel-Hamas conflict, has placed global police forces on high alert.
Representative Tlaib made a speech to protesters in which she called the bombing of the Al Alhi hospital in Gaza, which killed hundreds of people. Tlaib called the attack an act of "genocide." However, the United States government intelligence, and President Biden, had stated that footage of the scene attributes the attack on a group inside Gaza that is supportive of Hamas, called Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
The BBC spoke with several weapons experts to gather their opinions on the footage. The weapons experts agreed that the damage to Al Alhi appeared to be caused by "a failed section" of a missile, which leaked fuel and burned the hospitals parking lot, rather than a warhead.