Sanders Calls For Israeli Restraint in Siege of Gaza | News | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice


Sanders Calls For Israeli Restraint in Siege of Gaza


Published October 11, 2023 at 3:32 p.m.

Sen. Bernie Sanders - FILE: ADAM BURKE
  • File: Adam Burke
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders
U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Wednesday urged Israel to show restraint as it prepares to retaliate for Hamas' "terrorist assault" that killed more than 1,000 people last weekend.

The statement adds nuance to the brief one Sanders released on Sunday, in which he said there was “no justification” for the “horrifying attack on Israel by Hamas and Islamic Jihad.”

“Innocent people on both sides will suffer hugely because of it. It must end now,” he wrote then.

In the ensuing days, it has become clear that the violence will continue. The Israeli military has blocked food, water and fuel deliveries to the Gaza Strip, the small Palestinian territory that Hamas has controlled since 2006. Israel has also called up 360,000 military reservists, pounded Gaza with air strikes and is planning a “complete siege.” That's in response to the attacks that killed at least 1,200 people, many of them civilians, in Israel. An estimated 1,100 people have died so far in retaliatory strikes in Gaza.

Sanders, who is Jewish, reiterated his initial condemnation of the Hamas attack on Wednesday.

“The gunning down of young Israelis at a music festival is an image the world will not soon forget,” he wrote.

But he also sought to highlight the humanitarian crisis in Gaza as a challenge that the violence makes harder to solve.

"Longer term, this attack is a major setback for any hope of peace and reconciliation in the region — and justice for the Palestinian people,” Sanders wrote. “For years, people of good will throughout the world, including some brave Israelis, have struggled against the blockade of Gaza, the daily humiliations of occupation in the West Bank, and the horrendous living conditions faced by so many Palestinians. For many, it is no secret that Gaza has been an open-air prison, with millions of people struggling to secure basic necessities.”

"Hamas' terrorism," he wrote, “... will embolden extremists on both sides, continuing the cycle of violence.”

He called on the international community to focus on “reducing humanitarian suffering and protecting innocent people” and said Israel’s blockade was “a serious violation of international law and will do nothing but harm innocent civilians.”

"The United States has rightly offered solidarity and support to Israel in responding to Hamas’ attack,” he wrote. “But we must also insist on restraint from Israeli forces attacking Gaza and work to secure UN humanitarian access.”

The two other members of Vermont’s federal delegation issued statements earlier this week in response to the terror attacks.

“Deliberately targeting innocent civilians is never acceptable. Full stop,” Sen. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) wrote.

And Rep. Becca Balint (D-Vt.), who is Jewish, condemned the "sickening" violence in the region.

“Innocent families, no matter their flag, will be traumatized for generations from this cycle of violence,” she wrote.

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