Ex-GOP congressman sounds alarm over “horrific” killing of Gaza civilians

Former GOP Representative Justin Amash of Michigan called the destruction of Gaza by Israeli forces “horrific” on Friday and sounded the alarm over the killing of civilians in the region.

On October 7, Hamas led the deadliest Palestinian militant attack on Israel in history. Israel subsequently launched its heaviest-ever airstrikes on Gaza. According to Israeli officials, 1,400 people in Israel have been killed as of Saturday, the Associated Press reported, while over 7,700 Palestinians have died, according to officials from the health ministry in Gaza, according to the AP. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said his country is “at war” and has cut off supplies of food, fuel, electricity and medicine into Gaza.

Amash, a Palestinian-American who left the Republican Party in his later years in office, took to X, formerly Twitter, to share the fear that his relatives in Gaza are experiencing amid Israel’s airstrikes.

“The ongoing destruction of Gaza is horrific. Countless innocent civilians are being killed or severely injured,” the former congressman wrote. “My Orthodox Christian relatives have nothing to do with terrorism, but they haven’t been spared from death, pain, and grief.”

Palestinians search the destroyed annex of the Greek Orthodox Saint Porphyrius Church damaged in a strike on Gaza City on October 20. Former GOP Representative Justin Amash of Michigan called the destruction of Gaza by Israeli forces “horrific” on Friday and sounded the alarm over the killing of civilians in the region.
Dawood Nemer/AFP via Getty Images

Amash also wrote that it has been difficult to communicate with his relatives.

“When I spoke with a family member several days ago, I heard the blast of an airstrike near the church and the fear in his voice. He hadn’t slept in days. Young relatives woke up startled, terrified they might not survive,” he posted. “Now we can’t even communicate with any of them.”

Israeli airstrikes on Friday knocked out internet and communications in Gaza. Israel’s continued bombardment on Saturday has disrupted ambulances and aid groups in the region, the AP reported.

“Children make up about half the population of Gaza. Among those who are fortunate to survive Israel’s bombardment, many will forever be traumatized and resentful,” Amash wrote in his Friday X post. “This is not a viable path forward for Palestinians or Israelis who hope for a peaceful future.”

Amash served Michigan’s 3rd Congressional District in the House of Representatives from 2011 to 2021. He was a part of the Republican Party until 2019 when he became an independent and joined the Libertarian Party the following year.

Meanwhile, the former congressman has already lost family due to the Israel-Hamas war.

He wrote on October 20 in a post on X that several of his relatives were killed when Gaza City’s Saint Porphyrius Orthodox Church, where his family were sheltering, was hit by an overnight airstrike. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) previously confirmed to Newsweek that it was responsible for damage to the church and added that it “can unequivocally state that the Church was not the target of the strike.”

Amash shared a picture of two of his relatives, Viola and Yara, who he said were killed. “Give rest, O Lord, to their souls, and may their memories be eternal,” he wrote. “The Palestinian Christian community has endured so much. Our family is hurting badly. May God watch over all Christians in Gaza—and all Israelis and Palestinians who are suffering, whatever their religion or creed.”

Newsweek reached out to Amash via email for comment.

Amash was the first Palestinian-American to represent his state in Congress. A current Michigan representative who is the first Palestinian-American woman to serve in Congress, Rashida Tlaib, offered her condolences to Amash, commenting on his X post: “I am so sorry Justin.”

Tlaib has been under scrutiny recently for criticizing Israel’s reaction to Hamas’ attack and President Joe Biden‘s support of Israel. The Democratic congresswoman has called for a de-escalation in Gaza and joined in a Jewish-led, pro-Palestinian protest that demanded lawmakers call for a ceasefire on October 18 at the Capitol’s Cannon House Office Building.

GOP Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia introduced a resolution to the House floor on Thursday to censure Tlaib, which Representative Jared Moskowitz, a Florida Democrat who is Jewish, urged Congress to consider.

The resolution states that Tlaib is being censured for “antisemitic activity, sympathizing with terrorist organizations, and leading an insurrection at the United States Capitol Complex.” Greene was referring to the October 18 protest that Tlaib took part in, which was not an insurrection. A Capitol police spokesperson previously told Newsweek that the event was “generally a peaceful demonstration.”

Tlaib called Greene’s resolution “unhinged” and “deeply Islamophobic” in an X post on Thursday afternoon. Meanwhile, Representative Becca Balint, a freshman Vermont Democrat, pushed forward a resolution on Thursday to censure Greene who Balint says has “repeatedly fanned the flames of racism, antisemitism, LGBTQ hate speech, Islamophobia, anti-Asian hate, xenophobia, and other forms of hatred.”