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Ocasio-Cortez and Jayapal Urge Biden to Suspend Israel Aid After Rafah Bombing

Meanwhile, European leaders are reportedly considering sanctions against Israel following the attack.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal speaks during a Congressional Progressive Caucus news conference at the Capitol on May 16, 2024, in Washington, D.C.

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is among those calling for President Joe Biden to immediately suspend all U.S. military aid to Israel as she called Sunday night’s bombing of a “tent zone of innocents” in Rafah “an indefensible atrocity.”

In a statement posted to X on Monday, the New York Democrat said the bombing by the Israel Defense Forces — which killed an estimated 45 people and wounded hundreds more, according to the Gaza ministry of health — “was done in open defiance of President Biden’s red line and the [International Court of Justice’s] call for a ceasefire. It is long past time for the President to live up to his word and suspend military aid.”

As European leaders are reportedly considering sanctions against Israel following the attack, a spokesperson for the U.S. National Security Council on Monday once again defended an apparent Israeli “war crime” by saying, “Israel has a right to go after Hamas.”

Relief agencies on the ground and witnesses described a bombing that incinerated dozens of children and woman — leaving victims burnt beyond recognition and with limbs blown off — but the unnamed U.S. spokesperson justified what others described as a “massacre” by saying, “we understand this strike killed two senior Hamas terrorists who are responsible for attacks against Israeli civilians.”

The spokesperson only said that “Israel must take every precaution to protect civilians,” but made no mention that sanctions might be imposed or aid suspended. Axios reports that the Biden administration is “still assessing” whether or not the attack crossed the so-called “red line” that Biden earlier this month said must not be violated by Israel.

Critics of the bombing said it was just the latest violation of international human rights law by Israel that proves a ceasefire and a suspension of the incursion is urgently needed, especially after the International Court of Justice last week called on Israel to “immediately” halt its military operations in Rafah and human rights groups have warned for months that such a military operation would result in exactly the kind of carnage unleashed Sunday.

“Attacking women and children while they cower in their shelters in Rafah is a monstrous atrocity,” declared U.N. Special Rapporteur on the right to housing Balakrishnan Rajagopal on Monday. “We need concerted global action to stop Israel’s actions now.”

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, described the attack as “horrific,” one that killed “innocent children, women and elderly.”

“This IS an incursion into Rafah,” Jayapal added, “the very incursion that President Biden said he would not tolerate and would lead to stopping aid. It’s past time. There is nowhere safe in Gaza.”

While Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tried to dodge accountability by characterizing the strike a “tragic mistake,” human rights groups have documented Israeli forces repeatedly targeting civilians without fear of consequences in Gaza.

On Monday, Amnesty International released a new report alleging “war crimes” by Israel in the form of three separate air strikes “that killed 44 Palestinian civilians, including 32 children, in the occupied Gaza Strip” last month.

The bombings — one on the al-Maghazi refugee camp on April 16, and two separate attacks on Rafah on April 19 and 20 — said Amnesty, “are further evidence of a broader pattern of war crimes committed by the Israeli military in the occupied Gaza Strip in the last seven months.”

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), which received dozens of the victims from Sunday night’s massacre in Rafah, pushed back on the argument put forth by both U.S. and Israeli officials that the airstrike was in any way “targeted” or legitimate.

“Civilians are paying the price of this war,” said Samuel Johann, emergency coordinator in Gaza for Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). “This Israeli attack on a populated camp in a so-called ‘safe zone’ in Rafah shows the complete disregard for the lives of civilians in Gaza.”

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