WASHINGTRON (Dispatches) – Free speech advocacy groups have urged top Democratic Congressman Gregory Meeks to advance a push to block a $735m arms deal to the Zionist regime, after the occupying regime’s military targeted a building housing media offices in Gaza.
Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez introduced legislation to suspend the deal earlier this week. The bill has so far acquired 14 co-sponsors. Bernie Sanders has also introduced the resolution in the Senate.
The House measure will not advance even for a debate without the approval of Meeks, the chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
“Freedom of the press is an essential human right. The Israeli military’s bombing of international press offices actively interfered with the ability of journalists to document the situation on the ground in Gaza, including their ability to document human rights abuses and potential war crimes,” the groups said in a joint statement on Thursday.
“Especially in light of numerous reports of social media censorship targeting Palestinians, it’s crucial that reporters in Gaza are able to do their jobs safely and without military interference.”
The rights groups included Fight for the Future, Freedom of the Press Foundation, MediaJustice, MPower Change and National Lawyers Guild.
“The U.S. government should not be selling weapons to a government that has shown repeatedly it will use them to attack media outlets and journalists,” the groups added.
“As Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep Gregory Meeks must allow a vote on the proposal to halt the arms deal. If he fails to do so, he’s actively working against freedom of the press, democracy, and human rights around the globe.”
Progressives and Palestinian rights advocates are looking to start a debate on the issue that has long been a focal point of U.S. policy in the Middle East across administrations from both major parties.
Last week the Zionist regime leveled a tower hosting the offices of the Associated Press, Middle East Eye and Al Jazeera amongst other outlets. This week it targeted a building housing the offices of a Palestinian news website.
The Zionist regime began the aerial bombardment of the Gaza Strip on May 10, after weeks of violence against Palestinians at the al-Aqsa Mosque compound, where Zionis troops and settlers attacked Palestinian worshipers, and in Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, where the regime tried to force Palestinians out of their homes to build more illegal settlements.
The regime killed at least 243 Palestinians, including 66 children and 39 women, through its aerial bombardment of Gaza. Palestinian resistance groups responded with thousands of significantly improved rockets, which caught the regime off guard and killed 12 people.