Senator Sanders demands US withdraw military aid as Israel escalates attacks in Rafah

Amidst escalating violence in Rafah, Senator Bernie Sanders challenges the U.S. administration to cease military support for Israel, citing severe humanitarian risks and a potential large-scale tragedy.

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Amid escalating violence in Rafah, Gaza, where Israeli forces are poised for a ground invasion, Senator Bernie Sanders has issued a stern call to the Biden administration to halt U.S. military support for Israel. This demand comes in response to the imminent threat to civilian lives, particularly highlighting the dire situation faced by the estimated 600,000 children in the southern Gaza city.

The conflict in Gaza has seen a dramatic escalation in recent months, with Rafah becoming a focal point due to its strategic significance and the density of its displaced population. Over 1.4 million people, displaced by previous conflicts, now find themselves in the crosshairs of another potential military offensive. The city’s proximity to Egypt and its role as a humanitarian hub make it a critical area for both sides in the conflict.

Recently, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) initiated a forced evacuation of about 100,000 people from eastern Rafah, distributing leaflets that directed displaced families to relocate to a narrow strip along Gaza’s coast. This move signals a long-feared ground assault, stoking international alarm over a potential humanitarian disaster. The evacuation order and the looming invasion have been met with condemnation from global humanitarian organizations and some sectors of the international community.

Senator Sanders, an Independent from Vermont, has been vocal about his disapproval of American involvement in the conflict through military aid to Israel. Following the announcement of the forced evacuations, Sanders intensified his rhetoric, stating, “Now an assault is imminent. It will kill countless civilians. President Biden must back his words with action.” This statement aligns with his consistent stance against what he perceives as an excessive and unbalanced U.S. foreign policy towards Israel.

In his critique, Sanders referenced President Biden’s March declaration, which labeled a ground assault on Rafah a “red line” unless Israel developed a credible plan to evacuate civilians safely. Despite these warnings, the preparations for a ground invasion suggest that no such plan has materialized, leading Sanders to challenge the U.S. administration to reevaluate its support.

The U.S. remains the largest funder of the Israeli military, having recently included a $17 billion aid package for Israel’s defense in a foreign aid bill—an allocation Sanders voted against. This financial backing has become increasingly controversial as the conflict in Gaza intensifies, with critics arguing that it contributes to the escalation of violence.

The potential for a full-scale ground assault in Rafah has prompted a varied response. Dozens of U.S. House Democrats have echoed Sanders’ call for restraint, urging President Biden to ensure that a comprehensive ground invasion does not proceed. Internationally, calls for a ceasefire have been bolstered by mediation efforts involving various global actors, though with limited success.

The humanitarian impact of the conflict is severe, with reports indicating high casualty rates among civilians, particularly women and children. Humanitarian organizations warn that famine and widespread starvation are imminent risks if the conflict continues unabated. These conditions have led to heightened scrutiny of the ethical implications of using U.S. military aid in such conflicts, with growing debate over the adherence to international laws designed to protect civilian lives during warfare.

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