Demonstrators pressure congressional reps over continued aid to Israel

The ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas is increasingly pitting some constituents against their elected representatives. Three rallies were held in the Bay Area Thursday at the offices of three members of Congress.

In Palo Alto, chants of "ceasefire now" are part of grassroots efforts to influence political action in Washington, D.C.

"We are demanding that Anna Eshoo do more to demand a permanent ceasefire in Gaza," said 18th Congressional District constituent Naiema Din. "So far she’s been lip service. It’s not enough."

Roughly two dozen activists in Palo Alto were part of the coordinated action targeting the congressional offices in the Bay Area.

Israel’s war against Hamas is moving into its second month. Elected leaders from the president down have come under more pressure to protect Palestinians.

"That would include things like putting conditions on military aid to Israel," said Dr. David McCuan, a political scientist at Sonoma State University. "There are moves and there is a belief by those activists that they can influence what is going on in Congress. And place pressure to at least discuss conditions on military aid in Israel. That would be a big game-changer."

Many activists say failure to stand with Palestinians is leading to an increase in Islamophobia. They point to the recent shooting of Palestinian students in Vermont. And they said there have been incidents in the South Bay too.

"A gentleman was walking across the street. He was wearing a shirt that had Arabic on it, and he was hit by a driver. So he was a victim of a hit-and-run. And that’s right here in her district," said Din.

Rep. Eshoo’s staffers said she is in Washington, not at her Palo Alto office. An attempt to talk with demonstrators via a doorway intercom didn’t pan out.

In a lengthy statement to them, Eshoo wrote, "…While I have consistently pressed the IDF to take precautions to protect civilians, I have not called for a permanent ceasefire because I believe Hamas must be removed from power in Gaza…because they have no regard for the welfare of the Palestinians they claim to represent."

Eshoo and the other members targeted are, along with the entire House, debating additional aid to Israel. That package may end up containing language impacting how the war with Hamas is fought.

Jesse Gary is a reporter based in the station's South Bay bureau. Follow him on X (formerly Twitter), @JesseKTVU and on Instagram, @jessegontv