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Congresswoman faces criticism over tweet on Israel holding body of Palestinian

Rep. Rashida Tlaib tweeted in support of Mai Afana's family, which has not gotten her body back from Israel after she was killed allegedly attempting to attack Israeli soldiers.
Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) (L) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) (R) arrive for a briefing with the House of Representatives on the situation in Afghanistan at the U.S. Capitol on Aug. 24, 2021 in Washington, DC.

Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan is being criticized for a tweet she posted about Israel not releasing the body of a Palestinian woman who allegedly attacked soldiers. Israeli and Palestinian sources reported conflicting information on the incident at the time. 

On Saturday, Tlaib tweeted about the efforts of Khuloud Afana to retrieve her daughter Mai’s body from the Israeli authorities. Tlaib said that the older Afana is “fighting to be able to bury her daughter & begin her healing.” Tlaib described the late Afana as “a mother, loving daughter & successful PhD student.” 

“She was killed by the Israeli government last June. Israel won't release her body to her family,” said Tlaib. 

Israeli and Palestinian authorities offered divergent accounts on Afana’s death in June. The Israeli military said the woman attempted to run over Israeli soldiers in the West Bank and then exited the vehicle brandishing a knife before they shot her. The Palestinian Authority said she was shot by Israeli forces after driving down a road that was under construction for military purposes. 

Tlaib did not mention the circumstances surrounding Afana’s death, which led to her tweet being criticized by some Israelis and pro-Israel voices in the United States. 

Israeli news outlet The Jerusalem Post covered the story on Monday, describing Afana as “woman who tried to kill troops.” 

Israel holds the bodies of Palestinians who attack Israelis and does not return them to the families. The government decided to implement this controversial policy to pressure Hamas into releasing the remains of two Israeli soldiers from Gaza. Both Israel and Hamas have been criticized by rights groups over the issue. 

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