Dingell seeks State Department briefing on escalating violence in Israel

Melissa Nann Burke
The Detroit News

Washington — U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell wrote to Secretary of State Anthony Blinken on Monday seeking a briefing on the escalating violence in Jerusalem between Palestinian protesters and Israeli police.

Dingell, a Dearborn Democrat representing the largest population of Arab Americans in the country, said she wants to know what steps are being taken to de-escalate tensions and promote a peaceful resolution to the situation.

"It is important that the United States play a constructive role in resolving this escalating situation through strong diplomatic engagement with Israelis and Palestinians to both prevent further violence and address the underlying drivers of the conflict, including continued settlement expansion and efforts to forcibly remove Palestinians from East Jerusalem," Dingell wrote. 

Rockets are launched from the Gaza Strip towards Israel, Monday.

She was referring to recent efforts by Israelis to remove Palestinians from areas of East Jerusalem that have stoked tensions in the last week. A recent raid on the sacred Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem by Israeli police left hundreds of Palestinians and a number of police officers wounded. 

In response, Hamas militants in Gaza fired rockets at Jerusalem, prompting Israel to respond with airstrikes.

The Associated Press reported that the Israeli army indicated there was an initial burst of seven rockets, one was intercepted and that rocket fire was continuing in southern Israel.

Gaza health officials reported nine people, including three children, died in an explosion in the northern Gaza Strip. The wire service said the cause of the blast was not immediately known. 

"This is a very dangerous situation for both sides that threatens to escalate further given the existing tensions between the two sides," Dingell wrote. 

The White House said Monday that national security officials are closely monitoring the violence in Israel. 

Debbie Dingell, U. S Representative for Michigan's 12th District during a press conference in West Bloomfield Township, Michigan on Oct. 18, 2020.

"We have serious concerns about the situation, including violent confrontations that we've seen over the last few days ... (and) an escalation earlier today," Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Monday. 

She added that National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan in a call with his Israeli counterpart over the weekend reiterated concerns about the potential evictions of Palestinian families from their homes.

She also said that the launching of rocket attacks from Gaza toward Israel "is unacceptable and must be condemned."