Rep. Jayapal takes backlash over Hamas-friendly comments



(The Center Square) – Congressional House Member Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash. is receiving backlash for deflecting accusations of rapes committed by Hamas fighters in an interview with CNN’s Dana Bash.

On Dec. 4, the United Nations heard accounts of sexual violence committed by Hamas fighters during the attack on Israel on Oct. 7. When Jayapal was asked about the cases of sexual violence, the congresswoman flipped the conversation towards Israel’s lack of compliance with international humanitarian law. She mentioned that the law that states health establishments, including hospitals, should not be attacked.

“I think that rape is horrific, sexual assault is horrific, I think that it happens in war situations,” Jayapal said in the interview. “However, I think we have to be balanced about bringing in the outrages against Palestinians.”

The surprise attack by Hamas on Israel claimed the lives of some 1,200 people and resulted in more than 200 people being taken hostage. Official Israeli sources state that 80 soldiers have been killed in Gaza since the start of the Israeli ground operations.

Israel has said around 137 hostages remain in Gaza with their conditions unknown.

Washington Rep. J.T. Wilcox, R-Yelm, told The Center Square in a phone call that Jayapal is the most prominent Washingtonian in Washington D.C., which means her comments falsely represent the views of the state.

“It’s important to reflect the facts that are out there about this conflict and talk about things that have been done by both sides, but there’s no need for balance if you simply just say these were equally horrific,” Wilcox said to The Center Square. “Just condemn it!”

In a followup statement posted on Dec. 5, Jayapal said her comment about balance was not about rape. It was intended to recognize “the tremendous pain and trauma of so many – in this terrible war.”

Jayapal has repeatedly called for an indefinite ceasefire and during the CNN interview, the congresswoman said it is “something that has to happen,” and that it is a realistic goal.

When Jayapal said it is unclear as for who is to blame for the situation, Bash pressed the congresswoman.

“I just think it’s very complicated – we don’t have all of the information in front of us – but I think that in these negotiations, everybody wants something,” Jayapal responded.

Wilcox views Hamas as uniquely inhuman and believes that in a situation like this you have to choose a side. “I take the side of the people that have been uniquely victimized over 2,000 years,” Wilcox said in reference to Jewish people.

The congresswoman also condemned what Hamas did on Oct. 7, but added that the death toll of Palestinians cannot be allowed.

According to the Ministry of Health, between Oct. 7 and Dec. 4, at least 15,899 Palestinians were killed in Gaza, with about 70% of whom Hamas has said to be women and children.

Jayapal stated that Hamas needs to be taken out, but her proposed way to do that is to create “a durable and strong coalition of allies within the Middle East with the United States [and] with Israel.”

However, Wilcox notes that there have been coalitions regarding Israel-Palestinian relations in the past, but they have never solved the conflict.

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