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Sanders: “History Will Judge” US’s Backing of Israel as It Destroys Gaza

Sanders’s op-ed comes just after Israel completed its total annihilation of Gaza’s largest hospital.

Sen. Bernie Sanders questions witnesses during a hearing in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill on March 14, 2024, in Washington, D.C.

Israel is “clearly” in violation of U.S. foreign assistance laws that bar military aid from being used to commit human rights atrocities, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) said in an op-ed this week calling for the U.S. to end its “complicity” in Israel’s genocide in Gaza.

“Blocking desperately needed U.S. humanitarian aid to Palestinians is obscene and unacceptable. It is also a violation of American law,” Sanders wrote in an article published Thursday in the Boston Globe. “The Foreign Assistance Act is clear: No U.S. assistance may be provided to any country that ‘prohibits or otherwise restricts, directly or indirectly, the transport or delivery of United States humanitarian assistance.’ Israel is clearly in violation of this law.”

For months, Israel has been deliberately blocking all forms of aid from entering Gaza, including food, water, and other basic needs like medical supplies, while raining thousands of bombs down on the region. Death lurks around every corner for Palestinians, whether from Israeli airstrike, gunshot, or tank; illness caused by Israel’s destruction of sanitation; or, pressingly, starvation, as Israel plunges Palestinians in Gaza into the worst famine in modern history, with 1.1 million at risk of or currently experiencing famine.

Sanders said that the U.S. must end its participation in Israel’s massacre in Gaza and stop sending support to “[Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu’s war machine.”

“The United States has offered Israel unconditional financial support for many years. That relationship must now change. Instead of begging Netanyahu’s extremist government to protect innocent lives and obey U.S. and international law, our new position must be simple and straightforward: Not another nickel for the Netanyahu government if its present policies continue,” Sanders wrote. “History will judge what we do right now.”

Indeed, experts, former U.S. government officials and advocacy groups have said that U.S. officials are breaking the law by continuing to back Israel’s military as it commits atrocities, including the Foreign Assistance Act, which encompasses the Leahy Law and laws like the Genocide Convention Implementation Act.

Experts have also warned that the U.S. is risking legal complicity in genocide under international law, with droves of unconditional arms sales to Israel despite the mountains of rubble and bodies piling up in Gaza.

Reports have suggested that Biden administration officials are fully aware that they are breaking U.S. law in sending weapons to Israel, with The Guardian reporting in January that State Department officials have specifically carved out exceptions to the Leahy Law — which bars military aid from being used by forces violating human rights — in order to continue supplying the weapons.

Human rights groups have documented blatant human rights violations by Israeli forces at length. On Thursday, World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that WHO workers returned to Khan Yunis this week after Israeli forces raided and bombarded it for months, only to find rubble and destruction where there were once homes, hospitals, and otherwise.

The destruction is extremely thorough, Tedros said; WHO workers and partners have called it “disproportionate to anything one can imagine.” Israel has destroyed the Nasser Medical Complex, Al-Amal and Al-Khair hospitals, cutting off essential services like water, electricity or sewage, the workers said. Upon their return, they also found Nasser’s warehouse up in flames — destroying the majority of the medical supplies there that humanitarian and medical workers desperately need to treat injured and dying Palestinians.

Israeli troops’ withdrawal from Khan Yunis comes just after the military completed its two-week raid and total annihilation of Al-Shifa Hospital, the largest hospital in Gaza. Witnesses to the raid have described abominable acts undertaken by Israeli troops, including the slaying of medical staff and the execution of people who laid in hospital beds.

According to Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor, the Al-Shifa raid was among the deadliest massacres in Palestinian history, with initial reports estimating that over 1,500 Palestinians have been killed, injured, or are missing as a result of Israel’s sweep of the facility.