CAMBRIDGE — Several dozen people blocked a side street and outside US Senator Elizabeth Warren’s home and unfurled banners Sunday afternoon, urging the progressive legislator to call for a cease-fire in Gaza.
“We need our legislators to do the bare minimum,” said organizer Fatema Ahmad, executive director of the Muslim Justice League. That, she said, means introducing and passing a resolution for a cease-fire in the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict in Gaza and stopping aid to Israel.
Longstanding tensions flared into a conflict that’s raged for the past month and a half in Gaza. Hamas militants attacked Israel on Oct. 7, killing civilians and taking about 240 people hostage, according to Israeli officials.
Israel has carried out bombings and other attacks in Gaza, killing more than 11,200 Palestinians, including many women and children, according to the Health Ministry in Hamas-run Gaza. About 2,700 people have been reported missing.
In Israel, officials say about 1,200 Israelis have died.
The war has become a political flashpoint in the United States, which has close diplomatic ties with Israel.
Warren, who rose to prominence as one of the most visible progressives in Congress, is now facing escalating criticism from left-wing supporters who see her as remaining too moderate on this issue. Last month, hundreds of current and former staffers wrote an open letter pushing her to make an explicit call for a ceasefire.
The Democratic senator, posted a statement on social media Thursday saying that Israel needed to “Stop the bombing NOW.” But her office said she was not calling for a cease-fire — rather, more narrowly, that Israel must do more to protect Gaza civilians as it fights Hamas.
A Warren spokesperson declined to comment on the protest Sunday.
Ahmad said she and others have tried to meet with Warren but to no avail.
“She’s been running away from us,” Ahmad said to those assembled. In response, several people yelled “shame.”
The protest was on Bowdoin Street — a narrow side street near Warren’s home in the Porter Square area — where a group congregated by the time organizers spoke shortly before noon.
Protesters wrote messages in chalk on the asphalt, including “Free Palestine” and “Ceasefire now.” Others held up black and white banners that said the same.
Willie Burnley Jr., a Somerville city councilor who said he worked for Warren’s reelection campaign in 2018, said the senator had to take a firmer stance.
“The US has incredible power to stop the violence,” said Burley, who took part in the protest.
As the crowd grew in the afternoon, a speaker led a chant of, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.”
That “river to the sea” phrasing is considered antisemitic by some who see it as a call for the destruction of Israel and, by extension, Jews.
Congress censured US Representative Rashida Tlaib, a Michigan Democrat, earlier this month after she used the expression, and the Anti-Defamation League said the phrase advocates for “the removal of Jews from their ancestral homeland.”
Both Ahmad and fellow organizer Isaiah Newman said they don’t view the phrase as meaning that. Newman, who said he’s Jewish, said he interprets it as calling for “freedom for all people” in the area.
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.