Calls for cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas war roil city councils from California to Michigan

OAKLAND, California — Oakland on Monday considered a resolution calling for a ceasefire in the war between Israel and Hamas, potentially joining nearly a dozen other U.S. cities, from Michigan to Georgia, that have supported the same.

The resolution before the Oakland City Council also calls for unrestricted humanitarian access to Gaza and a restoration of basic services, as well as “respect for international law” and the release of all hostages.

“Too many innocent lives have been lost,” said Councilman Carroll Fife, who introduced the resolution. “And I didn’t have any words prepared because my heart is too broken to even express what I’m really feeling right now.”

She said the issue is “deeply concerning” for Oakland residents and called for a moment of silence for the lives lost on both sides of the conflict.

Several hundred people had registered to speak at the council meeting, many wearing black and white Palestinian scarves. Their words were received with cheers and applause.

Similar resolutions have been passed in three cities in Michigan, where a large percentage of Arab Americans live, as well as in Atlanta; Akron, Ohio; Wilmington, Delaware; and Providence, Rhode Island.

There is currently a temporary ceasefire in place between Israel and Hamas, which Qatar has helped facilitate.

U.S. cities have passed resolutions on the conflict even though they have no legal role or formal say in the process, said David Glazier, who teaches constitutional law at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles.

“It raises an interesting question about where they get this mandate to speak for the people of their city, when no one has elected a city councilor because of their position on peace in the Middle East,” he said.

In the nearby city of Richmond, an approved resolution calling for a ceasefire and accusing Israel of ethnic cleansing sparked more than five hours of heated debate in October. The city of Ypsilanti, near Detroit, passed a peace resolution but withdrew it amid protests.

The Oakland resolution demands “an immediate ceasefire; the release of all hostages, the unrestricted access of humanitarian aid to Gaza; the restoration of food, water, electricity and medical supplies to Gaza; and respect for international law; and calls for a resolution that protects the safety of all innocent civilians.”

The resolution makes no mention of Hamas or the group’s attack that sparked the war, an omission that has drawn criticism from local groups including the Jewish Community Relations Council in San Francisco, which noted that it “failed to mention of the atrocities committed by Hamas on October 7. ”

Some speakers at the Oakland meeting called on the council to amend the resolution to condemn Hamas, while many more speakers, including Jewish anti-Zionist activists, urged approval of the measure without amendments. They accused Israel of apartheid and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians.

“We have seen the targeting and slaughter of civilians, of health care facilities, of hospitals and ambulances,” said one speaker, who identified himself as a recent medical school graduate. “I don’t think silence in the face of oppression and genocide is an acceptable response.”

Cities across the United States have become increasingly vocal on issues long relegated to diplomatic territory, even working with locally elected leaders abroad in what’s called city-to-city diplomacy to address everything, from housing refugees and asylum seekers to dealing with refugees and asylum seekers. with climate change.

Now, city councils are just the latest arena where intense debates about the war and the United States’ support for Israel are taking place. Protesters calling for a ceasefire recently shut down traffic on a major bridge into San Francisco during an international economic summit, and the Democratic Party of California recently canceled some events at its fall convention because of demonstrations.

In some cases the tension has turned violent. A pro-Palestinian protester was charged with involuntary manslaughter this month after a Jewish man died of head injuries following dueling protests in Southern California. He pleaded not guilty. A man in Vermont has pleaded not guilty to three counts of attempted murder in the non-fatal shooting of three Palestinian men studying in the United States.

Oakland’s move comes as Hamas released some hostages captured in the Oct. 7 attack, while Israel released some captured Palestinians. Israel has said it would extend the ceasefire by one day for every 10 additional hostages released, but that it remains committed to crushing Hamas’ military capabilities and ending its 16-year rule the group on Gaza, which would likely mean expanding the Israeli army. ground offensive.

The war began after Hamas breached Israel’s high-tech “Iron Wall” on October 7 and launched an attack that killed more than 1,200 Israelis. Hamas also took nearly 240 Israelis hostage.

According to the Hamas-controlled Ministry of Health in Gaza, more than 13,300 Palestinians have been killed since the war began, about two-thirds of them women and minors.


Jablon reported from Los Angeles. Associated Press journalist Julie Watson in San Diego contributed.