Bernie Sanders launched an effort Thursday to block the sale of $735 million in precision-guided weapons to Israel as President Joe Biden comes under increasing pressure from the left to stand up for Palestinian human rights.
Sanders announced his move, joining a similar effort by the so-called Squad of progressive Democrats, as Israeli airstrikes again pounded Gaza and Hamas rockets targeted Israeli towns.
‘At a moment when U.S.-made bombs are devastating Gaza, and killing women and children, we cannot simply let another huge arms sale go through without even a Congressional debate,’ said Sanders, an independent who votes with Democrats.
Bernie Sanders said it was time to examine whether the sale of weapons to Israel was helping peace or fueling conflict
A boy holds flowers among rubbles after Palestinian Al Deyri family’s home demolished by Israeli army’s airstrikes in Gaza City
Relatives of 11-year-old Deema Asaliyeh, who was killed on Israeli attacks, mourn over her body during funeral ceremony at Jabalia refugee camp in Beit Lahia, Gaza, on Thursday. The death toll climbed to 227 Palestinians on Thursday, including 64 children and 38 women, with 1,620 wounded
A fire ball erupts from a building following an Israeli bombardment over Rafah
He introduced a resolution Thursday to halt the Biden administration’s planned sale of Joint Direct Attack Munitions and Small Diameter Bombs.
‘I believe that the United States must help lead the way to a peaceful and prosperous future for both Israelis and Palestinians,’ said the senator, who is Jewish.
‘We need to take a hard look at whether the sale of these weapons is actually helping do that, or whether it is simply fueling conflict.’
Biden’s administration approved the sale and has sent it to Congress for review.
The deal has become a flashpoint for progressives seeking to alter the long-standing U.S. position of offering financial and military support to Israel.
Sanders’ intervention comes a day after Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Mark Pocan, and Rashida Tlaib introduced a similar resolution.
Israel resume its strikes on targets in Gaza on Thursday, hitting a building in Rafah in the southern part of the strip
Rep. Rashida Tlaib urged President Biden to rethink his position on Israel when he visited Michigan this week, demanding that he do more to protect Palestinian lives
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, along with Tlaib and Rep. Mark Pocan, introduced a similar resolution seeking to halt the sale on Wednesday
Tlaib confronted Biden when he visited Michigan on Tuesday.
‘Congresswoman Tlaib reiterated that the status quo is enabling more killing, that the current U.S. approach of unconditional support for the Israeli government is not working, and that the White House must do far more to protect Palestinian lives, dignity, and human rights,’ an aide told NPR later.
Biden had repeatedly defended Israel’s right to protect itself from rockets fired by Hamas.
But with pressure growing from the left, Biden shifted stance on Wednesday to demand that Israel immediately de-escalate its offensive amid diplomatic moves to secure a ceasefire.
The result was business as usual as the strike against Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip continued through Wednesday night.
The Israeli Defence Forces released a map of the Hamas ‘Metro’ as their bombing campaign continued – revealing that they have destroyed 60 miles of the vast tunnel network since last Monday.
Central to Israel’s strategy is knocking out Hamas’s underground network of tunnels which allows them to funnel weapons and rockets underneath densely populated civilian areas, below schools and hospitals. Hamas has invested around $250 million in the vast infrastructure, which they first began using to hide from the IDF. Today, the tunnels are up to 90ft deep, stand 6ft tall by 6ft wide, and contain kitchens as well as living quarters and meeting rooms. Not only do the jihadists use them to hide and transport weapons, but also for training new militants and storing armaments.
People inspect the rubble of destroyed residential building which was hit by Israeli airstrikes, in Beit Lahiya, Gaza Strip
Israeli soldiers fire artillery shells towards the Gaza Strip from their position along the border with the Palestinian enclave on Thursday
It comes despite Biden’s stern intervention on Wednesday, warning Benjamin Netanyahu that he expected ‘a significant de-escalation today on the path to a ceasefire.’
After a visit to military headquarters, Netanyahu said he appreciated ‘the support of the American president,’ but he said Israel would push ahead to return ‘calm and security’ to Israeli citizens.
Israel unleashed a fresh bombardment of the Strip this morning, killing at least one and wounding several others, as the death toll climbed to 227 Palestinians, including 64 children and 38 women, with 1,620 wounded.
Hamas and other militant groups embedded in residential areas have fired more than 4,000 rockets at Israeli cities, with hundreds falling short and most of the rest intercepted or landing in the open.
Twelve people in Israel, including a five-year-old boy, a 16-year-old girl and a soldier, have been killed.
Amid a lull in Hamas rocket fire through the early hours of this morning, reports in the US said that ceasefire terms could be agreed by Friday.
Officials involved in peace talks told The Wall Street Journal that Egyptian mediators had made ground in their talks with Hamas and that Israel had ‘privately conceded’ that the aims of its operation were almost complete.
Chief of the Hamas political wing Mousa Mohammed Abu Marzook said last night that he believed a truce could be arrived at by Thursday evening or Friday night but warned: ‘The equation is clear – if they escalate we escalate.’
Central to Israel’s strategy is knocking out Hamas’s underground network of tunnels which allows them to funnel weapons and rockets underneath densely populated civilian areas, below schools and hospitals.
Hamas has invested around $250 million in the vast infrastructure, which they first began using to hide from the IDF.
Today, the tunnels are up to 90ft deep, stand 6ft tall by 6ft wide, and contain kitchens as well as living quarters and meeting rooms.
Not only do the jihadists use them to hide and transport weapons, but also for training new militants and storing armaments.
Explosions rocked Gaza City again through the early hours of Thursday, with orange flares flashing across the night sky and air strikes also reported in the central town of Deir al-Balah and the southern town of Khan Younis.
As the sun rose, residents surveyed the rubble from at least five family homes destroyed in Khan Younis. There were also heavy air strikes on al-Saftawi Street, a commercial thoroughfare in Gaza City.