Pro-Palestinian supporters in Northern California defended Hamas during a city council debate on a resolution calling for a permanent cease-fire with some even denything the atrocities committed by the terror group on Oct. 7.
The Oakland City Council unanimously passed the resolution 8-0 in a special meeting as hundreds of people spoke on the issue amid nearly five hours of public input. The resolution, which was introduced by Councilmember Carroll Fife, also demands the release of all hostages, unrestricted entry of humanitarian aid into Gaza, and the restoration of critical infrastructure like water, electricity and food.
“I want Jewish children to live as much as I want Palestinian children to live,” Fife said.
Israel has targeted Hamas since its terrorist fighters killed around 1,200 people, including children, on Oct. 7. Israeli forces have since declared war on Hamas and have bombarded the Gaza Strip, which is controlled by the group.
Before the vote, the council voted 6-2 to reject proposed amendments by member Dan Kalb that specifically condemned killings and hostage-taking by Hamas.
The motion was met by boos and angry shouts from the packed chamber.
Some public speakers argued that a number of atrocities committed by Hamas, according to Israeli and U.S. officials, actually didn’t occur.
“There have not been beheadings of babies and rapings,” one woman told the council. “Israel murdered their own people on Oct. 7.”
“The notion that this is a massacre of Jews is a fabricated narrative,” another woman said, who accused the Israel Defense Forces of killing many of the children murdered during the attack.
“To hear them (pro-Israel supporters) complaining about Hamas violence is like listening to a wife-beater who complains when his wife finally stands up and fights back,” one man said.
Another speaker called those who support the condemnation of Hamas “old White supremacists” while another said calling Hamas a terrorist group was “racist” and plays into “genocidal propaganda.”
Many of the pro-Palestinian speakers accused Israel of colonizing the Palestinian territories and creating an apartheid system that oppresses Palestinians.
“We’ve seen the targeting and massacring of civilians, of health care facilities, of hospitals and ambulances,” said one speaker, who identified herself as a recent medical school graduate. “Silence in the face of oppression and genocide, I don’t think, is an acceptable response.”
A pro-Israel speaker said Hamas isn’t interested in peace.
“Hamas has no interest in co-existence,” he said.
Hamas and Israel were in the midst of a temporary cease-fire through Wednesday. On Tuesday, it released the latest batch of hostages in exchange for Palestinian prisoners detained in Israel.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.