No More US complicity with Netanyahu’s War Machine in Gaza

By Bernie Sanders; Boston Globe 


Israel has the right to respond to Hamas. It does not have the right to go to war against the Palestinian people.

It’s difficult to comprehend the severity of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

This war was begun by the brutal Hamas attack on Israel on Oct. 7, 2023, that killed about 1,200 innocent people and took more than 250 people hostage.

Israel’s response, however, has now caused more than 33,000 Palestinian deaths and some 76,000 injuries in Gaza — two-thirds of whom are women and children. Nearly 1.7 million people in Gaza, 75 percent of the population, have been driven from their homes. Civilian infrastructure has been devastated, and more than half of all buildings in Gaza have been damaged or destroyed, including more than 60 percent of all housing units.

Israel has the right to respond to Hamas. It does not have the right to go to war against the Palestinian people.

At this moment, Palestinian children are dying from malnutrition and hundreds of thousands of people are struggling to survive from day to day, foraging for leaves, eating animal feed, or splitting the occasional aid package among their family. The United Nations said that if nothing changes, more than 1 million people will face starvation.

Let’s be clear: This is a monumental tragedy for the Palestinian people. But from a moral perspective, it is also a defining moment for Americans, because the United States is directly complicit in this horrific war. No, the US military is not dropping 2,000-pound bombs on civilian apartment buildings, but the United States is supplying those bombs. No, the United States is not blocking the borders and preventing food, water, and medical supplies from getting to desperate people, but we have supplied billions of dollars to the Netanyahu government, which is doing just that.

Despite the massive financial and military support the United States has provided to Israel for many years, the right-wing, extremist government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel has continued to ignore increasingly urgent calls from President Biden and others to alter their military approach and to end the humanitarian disaster.

For months, thousands of trucks carrying life-saving supplies have sat just miles away from starving children — prevented from reaching their destination by unreasonable and arbitrary Israeli restrictions and a military campaign conducted with little regard for civilian life. Last week, the world got more evidence of Israel’s indiscriminate approach when seven aid workers with World Central Kitchen were killed in an Israeli airstrike. Israel has now killed more than 200 humanitarian aid workers in six months.

Blocking desperately needed US humanitarian aid to Palestinians is obscene and unacceptable. It is also a violation of American law. The Foreign Assistance Act is clear: No US assistance may be provided to any country that “prohibits or otherwise restricts, directly or indirectly, the transport or delivery of United States humanitarian assistance.” Israel is clearly in violation of this law.

As a result of Israel blocking US humanitarian aid to residents of Gaza, the United States and the international community have had to resort to extreme measures, including air-dropping supplies and the construction of a port, in order to get food to starving people.

There are some signs that Israeli policy may finally be changing. Following a tense call between Biden and Netanyahu last week, Israel committed to a number of steps to improve humanitarian conditions and aid access. These commitments include opening additional border crossings, increasing the number of trucks cleared for entry into Gaza, improving aid distribution within Gaza, and reopening some bakeries and a water pipeline to supply northern Gaza. Biden made clear that “US policy with respect to Gaza will be determined by our assessment of Israel’s immediate action on these steps.”

Will Israel act with the extreme urgency needed to avert the looming famine by letting in the necessary humanitarian aid? Will Israel call off its planned invasion of Rafah, where 1.5 million people have sought refuge, which would cause untold civilian suffering? Will Israel adhere to a UN Security Council resolution calling for a humanitarian cease-fire and the return of the hostages? Will Israel stop expanding settlements in the West Bank and killing innocent Palestinians there? Will Israel listen to the United States and the rest of the world and take the necessary steps toward a two-state solution and a lasting peace?

I don’t know the answers to these questions, but I do know this: For decades, the United States has provided massive military aid to Israel. In recent years, that has amounted to $3.8 billion a year, with numerous additional forms of support. Right now, against my vote, Congress is considering Biden’s request for an additional $14 billion in military aid for Israel, $10 billion of which is completely unrestricted military funding.

The American people have had enough. Most Americans are fed up with Netanyahu’s war against the Palestinian people and do not want to see their taxpayer dollars spent to support the slaughter of innocent civilians and the starvation of children. A recent Gallup poll showed that just 36 percent of Americans surveyed approve of Israel’s military action, with 55 percent disapproving. A Quinnipiac poll showed that US voters surveyed oppose sending more military aid to Israel by 52 percent to 39 percent. A March YouGov survey showed that 52 percent of Americans polled said that the United States should halt weapons shipments to Israel until it stops its attacks in Gaza. It is time Congress and the president started listening.

The United States has offered Israel unconditional financial support for many years. That relationship must now change. Instead of begging Netanyahu’s extremist government to protect innocent lives and obey US and international law, our new position must be simple and straightforward: Not another nickel for the Netanyahu government if its present policies continue.

History will judge what we do right now. History will judge whether we stand with starving children, whether we uphold America’s professed values, or whether we continue to blindly finance Netanyahu’s war machine.