WASHINGTON — Laila El-Haddad said for weeks she had the same ritual morning and night: She checked to make sure her family in Gaza is still alive.
She said they sent “frenzied and harrowing,” updates about bombs that only seemed to get closer, shattered windows, dilapidated trees and neighbors losing entire bloodlines.
El-Haddad and many pro-Palestinian protesters in U.S. cities in recent weeks expressed disappointment in the U.S. government’s support for Israel after Israel responded to Hamas attacks with a 19-day bombardment of Gaza, which killed several thousand Palestinians, mostly civilians.
“Our government has failed us and it has failed them,” El-Haddad said to a crowd of hundreds gathered at the National Mall on Friday afternoon to call for a ceasefire in Gaza.
Many federal elected officials expressed support for Israel, which declared War after Hamas launched attacks on Oct. 7, killing more than 1,400 people, mostly civilians, in Israel. Thirteen House Democrats introduced a resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire.
On Oct. 16, Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., who spoke at the National Mall demonstration, signed the resolution urging “the Biden Administration to call for an immediate de-escalation and ceasefire in Israel and occupied Palestine, to send humanitarian aid and assistance to Gaza, and to save as many lives as possible.”
A day before the ceasefire demonstration, President Biden said in his Oval Office speech that he was requesting an “unprecedented” security package to aid Israel, including about $14 billion for Israel’s defense and weaponry.
President Biden also announced $100 million for humanitarian assistance in Gaza and the West Bank. The Biden administration said the aid will assist more than a million displaced people with clean water, food, hygiene support, medical care, and other essential needs.
But President Biden said in a press conference Monday that he will not discuss a ceasefire until Hamas returns the hostages taken from Israel. There have been four people released by Hamas, with more than 200 remaining captive.
In a speech at Friday’s demonstration, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., who signed the ceasefire resolution, said that pro-Palestinian voters will remember the government’s response during this time.
“We will not forget when we were mourning and crying and begging our country to stop the violence, it was silence,” Tlaib said.
Tlaib said that the demonstration’s turnout indicated that many people do not stand with President Biden’s all-in support for Israel. She also cited a poll from Data for Progress.
The poll, which surveyed 1,329 American voters from varying political parties, found that 66% of the respondents agree that the United States should call for a ceasefire and a deescalation of violence in Gaza.
The majority of House Democrats supported President Biden’s response, with more than half signing a letter commending his leadership. Senate Republicans also expressed “unwavering” support for Israel during this time.
One National Mall demonstrator, Altijani Hussain held a large sign, criticizing the Biden administration’s response to the violence in the region.
“Certainly, I’m not going to vote for him again,” Hussain said. “I don’t know who I will vote for when the time comes for voting, but certainly not Biden.”
While another demonstrator, Nada Elbasha, said she expected a similar response from all American presidents, she still felt “complete frustration and disillusionment,” towards the Biden administration.
“The way that Biden has been handling this and speaking on this, none of this is a surprise,” Elbasha said. “It is just as heartbreaking and frustrating.”