WASHINGTON, Dec. 15 – With nearly 19,000 people killed and more than 50,000 wounded in Gaza since October 7 – seventy percent of whom are women and children – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) Thursday introduced a resolution under Section 502B(c) of the Foreign Assistance Act to force a debate on the indiscriminate bombing being carried out by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing government.
The Foreign Assistance Act prohibits security assistance to any government “which engages in a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights.” Section 502B(c) of this law allows Congress to request information on a country’s human rights practices – such requests are privileged, allowing the sponsor to force a floor vote on the requesting resolution. If the resolution passes, the Department of State must submit the requested report within 30 days, or all security assistance to the country in question is cut off. After the report is received, Congress may then enact changes to condition, reduce, or terminate the security assistance in question. Both the initial vote to request the information and any subsequent votes to alter security assistance are privileged and require a simple majority for passage.
“We all know Hamas’ brutal terrorist attack began this war,” said Sanders. “But the Netanyahu government’s indiscriminate bombing is immoral, it is in violation of international law, and the Congress must demand answers about the conduct of this campaign. A just cause for war does not excuse atrocities in the conduct of that war.”
The resolution acknowledges Israel’s right to respond to the horrific Hamas terrorist attack and details how Israel’s indiscriminate response, including the use of massive explosive ordinance in densely populated urban areas, has devastated Gaza and caused tremendous loss of civilian life. Nearly 19,000 people have been killed, including 135 UN aid workers, and 1.9 million people have been displaced, more than 85 percent of the population. Some 60 percent of Gaza’s housing stock has been destroyed, comparable to Dresden after two years of bombing during World War II, and more than 100 UN facilities have been hit. Israel has relied on U.S.-provided arms in this campaign, including widespread use of explosive ordinance like 2,000-pound bombs and 155mm artillery in well-documented strikes that led to large numbers of civilian deaths.
Sanders said: “The scale of the suffering in Gaza is unimaginable – it will be remembered among some of the darkest chapters of our modern history. This is a humanitarian cataclysm, and it is being done with American bombs and money. We need to face up to that fact – and then we need to end our complicity in those actions.”
Based on this reality, the resolution requests the State Department report on any violations of internationally recognized human rights caused by indiscriminate or disproportionate military operations in Gaza, as well as the blanket denial of basic humanitarian needs. It also requests information on actions the U.S. has taken to limit civilian risk caused by Israeli military action, a certification that Israeli security forces have not committed any human rights violations, a summary of arms provided to Israel since October 7, and an assessment of Israel’s compliance with international humanitarian law in Gaza.