Progressive Dem Rep. Rashida Tlaib expressed her support for a Palestinian woman who was killed while attempting to kill Israeli soldiers on social media over the weekend.
On Saturday, Tlaib said that the Israeli military’s account of the death of Mai Afana in June was “without proof” and argued that the Israeli government needed to release her body to bring closure to her family. She did not mention in her remarks that Afana was killed after reportedly driving her car into an Israeli military checkpoint in a suspected terror attack.
“Meet Mai Afana’s mother, Khuloud, who is fighting to be able to bury her daughter & begin her healing. Mai was a mother, loving daughter & successful PhD student. She was killed by the Israeli government last June. Israel won’t release her body to her family,” Tlaib said. Afana was reportedly shot and killed by Israeli troops after ramming her vehicle into a checkpoint and threatening soldiers with a knife, injuring one soldier.
“I am sharing Mai’s story because I began to only learn last year of this inhumane practice by the Israeli govt. Without proof, they make claims, and all to just continue to dehumanize Palestinians even after they have died. We must stand against this form of collective violence,” Tlaib added. “The Palestinian people deserve the same dignity as any other human being. To deny the right to see their loved ones for a modicum of closure is another form of painful violence from the U.S. sponsored, Israeli arsenal. Mai’s dead body is one of hundreds being held.”
After her series of tweets about Mai Afana, Tlaib compared the slain woman to Ahmad Ereka, a 28-year-old man who was killed after ramming his car into an Israeli checkpoint in yet another suspected terror attack. Video of the incident, as detailed by the Daily Wire, showed Ereka swerving and then accelerating his vehicle into a female Israeli police officer. The attack launched the woman several feet. Another police officer shot and killed Erekat as he exited his vehicle, stopping him from committing further violence.
“I still remember the Erekat family’s plea last year to release their loving son, Ahmed’s body,” Tlaib wrote, adding that pro-Palestinian “human rights organizations” like Human Rights Watch “have demanded an end to this disgusting practice, and the U.S. must join them in their demand.”
According to Israeli law, the government may hold onto the bodies of suspected terrorists killed during attacks in order to prevent Palestinian communities from turning dead terrorists into martyrs, or using those bodies to trade for the bodies of Israeli soldiers and others held by the State Department-designated terrorist group, Hamas.
Tlaib’s remarks prompted a backlash as critics pointed out that she neglected to mention the circumstances of Afana’s death.