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

By Bernie Sanders | Boston Globe - April 11, 2024

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 about1,200 innocent people and took more than 250 people hostage.Israel’s response, however, has now caused more than 33,000 Palestinian deaths and some76,000 injuries in Gaza — two-thirds of whom are women and children. Nearly 1.7 millionpeople in Gaza, 75 percent of the population, have been driven from their homes. Civilianinfrastructure has been devastated, and more than half of all buildings in Gaza have beendamaged 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 thePalestinian people.At this moment, Palestinian children are dying from malnutrition and hundreds of thousands ofpeople are struggling to survive from day to day, foraging for leaves, eating animal feed, orsplitting the occasional aid package among their family. The United Nations said that ifnothing 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 moralperspective, it is also a defining moment for Americans, because the United States is directlycomplicit in this horrific war. No, the US military is not dropping 2,000-pound bombs on civilianapartment buildings, but the United States is supplying those bombs. No, the United States isnot blocking the borders and preventing food, water, and medical supplies from getting todesperate 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 formany years, the right-wing, extremist government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ofIsrael has continued to ignore increasingly urgent calls from President Biden and others toalter their military approach and to end the humanitarian disaster.For months, thousands of trucks carrying life-saving supplies have sat just miles away fromstarving children — prevented from reaching their destination by unreasonable and arbitraryIsraeli restrictions and a military campaign conducted with little regard for civilian life. Lastweek, the world got more evidence of Israel’s indiscriminate approach when seven aidworkers with World Central Kitchen were killed in an Israeli airstrike. Israel has now killedmore than 200 humanitarian aid workers in six months.Blocking desperately needed US humanitarian aid to Palestinians is obscene andunacceptable. It is also a violation of American law. The Foreign Assistance Act is clear: NoUS assistance may be provided to any country that “prohibits or otherwise restricts, directly orindirectly, the transport or delivery of United States humanitarian assistance.” Israel is clearlyin violation of this law.As a result of Israel blocking US humanitarian aid to residents of Gaza, the United States andthe international community have had to resort to extreme measures, including air-droppingsupplies 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 callbetween Biden and Netanyahu last week, Israel committed to a number of steps to improvehumanitarian conditions and aid access. These commitments include opening additionalborder crossings, increasing the number of trucks cleared for entry into Gaza, improving aiddistribution within Gaza, and reopening some bakeries and a water pipeline to supplynorthern Gaza. Biden made clear that “US policy with respect to Gaza will be determined byour 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 thenecessary humanitarian aid? Will Israel call off its planned invasion of Rafah, where 1.5million people have sought refuge, which would cause untold civilian suffering? Will Israeladhere to a UN Security Council resolution calling for a humanitarian cease-fire and the returnof the hostages? Will Israel stop expanding settlements in the West Bank and killing innocentPalestinians there? Will Israel listen to the United States and the rest of the world and takethe 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 UnitedStates has provided massive military aid to Israel. In recent years, that has amounted to $3.8billion 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 waragainst the Palestinian people and do not want to see their taxpayer dollars spent to supportthe slaughter of innocent civilians and the starvation of children. A recent Gallup poll showedthat just 36 percent of Americans surveyed approve of Israel’s military action, with 55 percentdisapproving. A Quinnipiac poll showed that US voters surveyed oppose sending moremilitary aid to Israel by 52 percent to 39 percent. A March YouGov survey showed that 52percent of Americans polled said that the United States should halt weapons shipments toIsrael 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. Thatrelationship must now change. Instead of begging Netanyahu’s extremist government toprotect innocent lives and obey US and international law, our new position must be simpleand straightforward: Not another nickel for the Netanyahu government if its present policiescontinue.History will judge what we do right now. History will judge whether we stand with starvingchildren, whether we uphold America’s professed values, or whether we continue to blindlyfinance Netanyahu’s war machine.    In solidarity,Bernie Sanders