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A group of House Democrats, led by Rep. Joaquin Castro, is urging President Biden to consider cutting off military aid to Israel over accusations of restricting aid to Gaza. The lawmakers called the situation in Gaza a “humanitarian catastrophe” in a letter to Biden, asserting that Israel is in violation of U.S. law that prohibits aid to countries impeding humanitarian assistance elsewhere. The Humanitarian Aid Corridor Act, invoked by the Democrats, prohibits foreign aid to countries obstructing U.S. humanitarian aid.

The letter highlighted the restrictions placed by the Israeli government, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, on the entry of humanitarian aid into Gaza. The lawmakers claimed that Israel’s actions, including limiting aid delivery entry points and preventing essential supplies from reaching Gaza, were exacerbating the humanitarian crisis in the region. They called on Biden to enforce the Humanitarian Aid Corridor Act and warn Israel that continued U.S. security assistance could violate U.S. law if aid restrictions persist.

The ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas has led to divisions within the Democratic Party, with progressives criticizing Biden for not doing enough to stop Israel’s retaliation, while moderate Democrats continue to support Israel. The United Nations agency UNRWA reported that Israel had stopped allowing its food convoys in northern Gaza, further exacerbating the humanitarian situation. UNRWA has also been under investigation for possible involvement in a Hamas attack in southern Israel on October 7.

The Democrats emphasized the urgent need for action to address the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, stating that dialogue alone was insufficient given the scale of the crisis and the suffering of innocent Palestinians. They urged Biden to demonstrate to Netanyahu that U.S. support has limitations and should not enable conditions that could lead to famine in Gaza. The lawmakers called on Biden to take decisive action based on existing U.S. law to ensure that humanitarian aid reaches those in need in Gaza.

The letter to Biden also referenced previous attacks by Hamas and highlighted Israel’s role in restricting aid delivery to Gaza, a move that the lawmakers argued was exacerbating the dire situation for civilians in the region. The lawmakers called on Biden to hold Israel accountable for its actions and enforce existing U.S. laws that prohibit aid to countries blocking humanitarian assistance. The Democrats emphasized the need for immediate action to prevent further suffering in Gaza and ensure that aid reaches those in need.

The issue of U.S. military aid to Israel and the handling of the conflict with Hamas has become a point of contention within the Democratic Party, with differing opinions on how to address the crisis in Gaza. Progressive Democrats have pushed for stronger action against Israel, while moderate Democrats have maintained support for the Middle Eastern ally. The plea by House Democrats to Biden reflects ongoing debates within the party on how to navigate the situation in the Middle East and address the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

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