More than 100 Mennonites arrested on Capitol Hill while protesting for a ceasefire in Gaza

More than 100 Mennonites arrested on Capitol Hill while protesting for a ceasefire in Gaza

Around 130 people were arrested after calling for a ceasefire in Gaza during a protest at the US Capitol organised by the group Mennonite Action, according to protesters and police.

Videos shared on social media by the group showed the Tuesday arrests at the sit-in organised in the Cannon House Office Building, which is part of the Capitol complex, as the group sang hymns and chanted “ceasefire” and “let Gaza live”.

The Mennonite Action site states that it calls for “a permanent ceasefire, a release of all hostages, and an end to the occupation of Palestine”.

“Mennonite Action is a movement of Mennonites bonded by a common belief that we have a responsibility to use our voices as powerfully as possible for the cause of peace and justice,” the site says. “We know that what’s happening right now in Israel and Palestine is unprecedented and tragic. We draw on our Mennonite history of opposing war, and in providing aid and relief to Palestine and to the Middle East.”

US Capitol Police said that a group had legally entered the Cannon House Office Building after being screened. About 130 people were subsequently arrested for “crowding, obstructing, or incommoding,” according to The Washington Post.

“Demonstrations are not allowed inside congressional buildings, so when they started to protest and refused to stop, we began arresting them,” the agency said in a statement.

Mennonite Action spokesperson Jonathan Brenneman told The Post that Mennonites are members of a “historic peace church” that is against all kinds of violence. Mr Brenneman said that around 150 protesters were arrested inside and about 200 protesters remained outside.

Mennonite Action has organised 40 actions at the offices of lawmakers and policymakers since the beginning of the Israel-Hamas war.

Israel has said they will root out Hamas, the group behind the 7 October 2023 attack during which around 1,200 Israelis were killed. Hamas also systematically used sexual violence in its attacks.

Since the counterattacks began, more than 24,000 people in Gaza have died, according to Palestinian authorities.

Mr Brenneman noted that since Mennonites live in rural parts of the US, they represent “a broad swath of society”.

“As Christians who see Christian nationalists championing Israel’s genocide, we felt compelled to speak clearly as Christians,” he told The Post. “To demand a cease-fire. To demand an end to US military funding of the Israeli military. To call for a release of all hostages – Israeli and Palestinian – and an end to the occupation.”