57 House Democrats Urge Biden to Withhold Military Aid from Israel to Prevent Gaza Assault

57 US House Democrats urge Biden to withhold military aid to Israel to prevent assault on Rafah, Gaza, citing need to protect civilians and uphold international law.

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Aqsa Younas Rana
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57 House Democrats Urge Biden to Withhold Military Aid from Israel to Prevent Gaza Assault

57 House Democrats Urge Biden to Withhold Military Aid from Israel to Prevent Gaza Assault

On May 2, 2024, a group of 57 US House Democrats, led by Representatives Pramila Jayapal and Madeleine Dean, signed a letter urging President Joe Biden to withhold military aid from Israel in an effort to prevent a potential assault on Rafah, Gaza. The letter cites the need to protect innocent lives and uphold international law, as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had vowed to invade Rafah, which is home to more than 1 million Palestinians seeking refuge.

The Democrats urged Biden to invoke existing law and policy to immediately withhold certain offensive military aid to the Israeli government in order to preempt a full-scale assault on Rafah. They stated, "If the Israeli government will not uphold international law and protect civilians, then the United States must act to protect innocent life."

The letter highlights the humanitarian catastrophe in Rafah, including overcrowding, lack of food and medical supplies, and high civilian casualties from previous Israeli strikes. The Democrats argue that an Israeli offensive in Rafah would undermine strategic interests and risk escalating the conflict in the region. They call on Biden to work towards a lasting ceasefire and a negotiated, long-term peace in the region.

The letter also called on the Biden administration to take measures to dissuade the Israeli government from a full-scale assault on Rafah, where almost half of Gaza's 2.3 million people have taken refuge. The White House did not immediately respond to the letter.

Why this matters: Biden's support for Israel in its war against Hamas has emerged as a political liability, particularly among young Democrats. Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated that the US could not support an assault on Rafah that does not protect civilians, but Israel has repeated that the operation will go ahead despite the US position and a UN warning of potential tragedy.

The Democrats highlighted that Israel's retaliation for the Hamas-led October 7 attack has already killed 34,568 people and wounded 77,765, mostly women and children, in the Gaza Strip. They argued that an offensive in Rafah would undermine the strategic interests of both Israel and the US, as the region has become unstable due to the Gaza war. The lawmakers urged Biden to withhold aid to Israel to protect civilians in Rafah and work towards a lasting ceasefire that can secure the safe return of hostages and a negotiated long-term peace in the region.

Key Takeaways

  • 57 US House Democrats urge Biden to withhold aid to prevent Israeli assault on Rafah, Gaza.
  • Democrats cite need to protect civilians and uphold international law amid Netanyahu's invasion plans.
  • Letter highlights humanitarian crisis in Rafah, including overcrowding, lack of supplies, and civilian casualties.
  • Democrats argue Israeli offensive in Rafah would undermine strategic interests and risk escalating conflict.
  • Biden's support for Israel emerges as political liability, especially among young Democrats.