Biden to visit Israel Wednesday
President Joe Biden will visit Israel on Wednesday to “deliver a strong message of support to a key U.S. ally that has declared war on the Palestinian group Hamas over its brutal terror rampage in southern Israel, according to CBS News. Biden is “coming here at a critical moment for Israel, for the region, and for the world,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Monday during his second visit to the Jewish state in a week.
Blinken announced that the U.S. and Israel had “agreed to develop a plan that will enable humanitarian aid from donor nations and multinational organizations to reach civilians in Gaza.”
Egypt controls the southern entrance to Gaza where most supplies are delivered.
Roughly 1 million Gazans have left their homes in anticipation of a full Israeli military response to the Oct. 7 terrorist attacks.
Israel, which supplies Gaza with free water and electricity, turned off those utilities several days ago but resumed the water for several hours over the weekend.
Hamas, however, continues to dig up and repurpose water pipes into short-range rockets which it fires into Israel.
Qatar funding, harboring Hamas leaders
Qatar, a key U.S. ally in the Gulf is also one of the top financial and political backers of the Hamas terrorist organization. A new report says their relationship could damage peace across the Middle East. Qatar provides financial and diplomatic support to numerous terrorist groups and state sponsors of terror, including Hamas and Iran.
“Qatar is a key supporter of Hamas, housing Hamas offices and senior leaders in Doha, and providing Hamas with funds that enable it to maintain its control over Gaza,” says Asher Fredman, director for Israel at the Abraham Accords Peace Institute think tank says the U.S. must act.
Qatar not only funds Hamas but uses it vast wealth to fund Arab media outlets that call for the destruction of Israel and the U.S. It is also currently hosting numerous Hamas leaders.
“Squad” members push for ceasefire
Some House Democrats continue to push a resolution urging President Joe Biden to call for de-escalation and a ceasefire to stop the imminent Israeli assault on the terrorist enclave.
This is the largest military response Israel has amassed in its 75-year history – comparable to if the U.S. amassed an army of 9 million.
Israeli authorities say the mission will not be complete until Hamas has been destroyed or driven from Gaza. Hamas was elected by Palestinians to rule Gaza in 2006.
The ceasefire resolution was co-sponsored by members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, including Reps. Cori Bush (D-Mo.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), André Carson (D-Ind.), Summer Lee (D-Pa.), Delia Ramirez (D-Ill.), Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.), Jesús “Chuy” García (D-Ill.), Jonathan Jackson (D-Ill.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), and Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.).
President Biden has been praised by Israel and Republicans for his response and support of Israel. He promised the United States would increase military assistance and ammunition supplies to Israel, and replenish their Iron Dome missile defense system. The U.S. military has now begun repositioning two carrier strike groups and multiple additional fighter jet squadrons to the region to deter any additional attacks on Israel as it carries out its military operations in Gaza.
99 Senators sign resolution supporting Israel
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky) was the lone holdout among the 100 Senators who Tuesday signed a resolution backing Israel’s war against Hamas.
The resolution states that the Senate “stands with Israel as it defends itself, including Israeli efforts to diminish the threat posed by Hamas” and “reaffirms Israel’s right to self-defense, and is committed to helping Israel safeguard its people from future aggression.”
Paul has repeatedly voted against or blocked funding for Iron Dome. The missile defense system saved hundreds of lives in the last 10 days. The system defends the country against short-range rockets from Hamas and Hezbollah. The U.S., which has provided billions of dollars to Israel, has also provided funding for the defense system. The Iron Dome currently protects U.S. troops along the North Korean border.
He ultimately blocked the funding four times, but it later passed in 2022 after months of delays.
Democrats join Republicans over Iran
Over 60 House Democrats joined Republicans to call on President Joe Biden to take a stronger stance against Iran as after Hamas killed over 1,300 Israelis last week, according to the Washington Examiner.
“Iran must be held fully accountable for its continued role in funding Hamas and Islamic terror,” the bipartisan letter reads. “We urge the Administration to take all necessary steps to cut off Iranian funding sources.”
“All necessary steps” suggested included the “maximum enforcement” of U.S. sanctions and the end of Iran’s oil trade with China. The bipartisan group also encouraged Biden to work with European allies to renew ballistic missile sanctions when the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action expires this month, as well as put pressure on Qatar and Turkey, who supported Hamas.
The letter had the backing of 63 Democrats and 50 Republicans, with the lawmakers saying they support using “every tool available to defeat radical terror.”
Deport pro-Hamas national says Sen. Cotton
Sen. Tom Cotton sent this week urged Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro to deport any foreign nationals, including those on a student visa, who have expressed support for Hamas’ attacks on Israel.
It comes after the single highest day of Jewish deaths since the Holocaust when Hamas invaded Israel on Oct. 7.
Hamas last week called for a “Day of Rage” against Israel and Jews. Thousands of mostly Palestinian students in the U.S. on special visas, protested.
“I write to urge you to immediately deport any foreign national — including and especially any alien on a student visa — that has expressed support for Hamas and its murderous attacks on Israel,” he wrote.
“Federal law is clear that any alien who ‘endorses or espouses terrorist activity or persuades others to endorse or espouse terrorist activity or support a terrorist organization’ is inadmissible and must be deported. Swiftly removing and permanently barring from future reentry any foreign student who signed onto or shared approvingly the anti-Semitic letter from the Harvard Palestine Solidarity Committee on October 7 would be a good place to start,” Cotton wrote in the letter.
Hostages now number 199
Israel has raised the number of hostages to 199 after it was able to first locate and inform families.
The numbers include 149 being held by Hamas and another 50 held by other Islamic terrorist groups in Gaza.
Hostages are as young as 7 months to several wheelchair bound seniors, a Holocaust survivor, pregnant women, teens and an autistic 12-year-old girl who texted during the attack, ‘Mummy, I’m scared. There are people in the house – help me.’
Hamas on Tuesday said it is holding 250 hostages.
“We are making valiant efforts to try to understand where the hostages are in Gaza, and we have such information,” said an Israeli military spokesperson, Daniel Hagari. “We will not carry out an attack that would endanger our people.”
–Compiled by Dwight Widaman