Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., urged his congressional colleagues on Tuesday to reject the more than $10 billion in military funding for Israel that is being considered amid Israeli forces’ “grossly disproportionate” and “immoral” response to Hamas terrorists’ Oct. 7 attack.
Sanders said in a statement that he is calling on Congress to reject the $10.1 billion in “unconditional military aid” being considered for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s “right-wing government to continue its brutal war against the Palestinian people.”
“The issue we face with Israel-Gaza is not complicated,” Sanders said. “While we recognize that Hamas’ barbaric terrorist attack began this war, we must also recognize that Israel’s military response has been grossly disproportionate, immoral, and in violation of international law. And, most importantly for Americans, we must understand that Israel’s war against the Palestinian people has been significantly waged with U.S. bombs, artillery shells, and other forms of weaponry. And the results have been catastrophic.”
More than 22,000 people have been killed in Gaza and Israel since Hamas launched its largest attack against the Jewish State in decades on Oct. 7, leading to Israeli forces launching a ground operation into the territory. Civilians have repeatedly been caught in the crossfire, with thousands having been wounded, and many others having been taken hostage by Hamas and raped, tortured or murdered.
Sanders noted that an estimated 57,000 Palestinians have been injured in the conflict.
“Since the start of the war 1.9 million Palestinian men, women, and children have been driven from their homes – 85% of the total population of Gaza,” the lawmaker said. According to an analysis of satellite radar data, nearly 70% of the housing units in Gaza have been destroyed or damaged by Israeli bombardment.”
“Today, not only are the vast majority of people in Gaza homeless, they lack food, water, medical supplies, and fuel,” he continued. “A recent UN report indicates that half of the population of about 2.2 million are at risk of starvation and 90% say that they regularly go without food for a whole day. The chief economist at the World Food Program said the humanitarian disaster in Gaza is among the worst he has ever seen. This cannot be allowed to continue.”
The proposed military aid for Israel is part of an emergency foreign aid package that would also allocate money for Ukraine, the Indo-Pacific region and U.S. border security.
Sanders said U.S. taxpayers “must no longer be complicit in destroying the lives of innocent men, women, and children in Gaza.”
Last month, Sanders voted against a procedural motion to advance the $110 billion emergency foreign aid package that includes $10.1 billion for Israel. He was the only member of the Democratic caucus who voted against the measure.
Before the vote, Sanders similarly criticized Netanyahu’s military response and wrote a letter to his Senate Democratic Caucus colleagues asking them to oppose the measure.
“I do not think we should be appropriating $10.1 billion for the right-wing, extremist Netanyahu government to continue its current military strategy,” he wrote in the Dec. 5 letter. “What the Netanyahu government is doing is immoral, it is in violation of international law, and the United States should not be complicit in those actions.”
Sanders wrote a week later in a letter to President Biden that Israel’s military response in Gaza has become a “mass atrocity” and that it “would be irresponsible to provide an additional $10.1 billion in military aid” beyond defensive systems that protect Israeli civilians against missile and rocket attacks.
The senator warned Biden that “Israel’s military campaign will be remembered among some of the darkest chapters of our modern history” and detailed the death and injury toll at the time. He also said the destruction in Gaza has surpassed the destruction caused by U.S. bombing in Dresden, Germany, and Japanese cities during World War II.