WASHINGTON – Senator Peter Welch (D-Vt.) joined Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) today in sending a letter to President Biden expressing serious concern about what the invasion and potential occupation of Gaza could mean, both in terms of the long-term security of Israel and the well-being of the Palestinian residents of the territory.
“Israel suffered a barbaric attack and is well within its rights to defend itself in keeping with international law, including the protection of civilians,” the senators wrote. “As a response, Israel is contemplating a large-scale ground invasion targeting Hamas. Reports indicate Israeli ground forces are already active in Gaza. We note recent reports that senior U.S. officials – including Secretary of Defense Austin – have conveyed to the Israeli government their serious concerns about the risks associated with this course. We share many of these concerns, not just relating to the timing and difficulty of such an operation and its likely humanitarian toll, but also regarding the difficult questions about the political reality it will leave in its wake.”
As Congress considers the administration’s emergency funding request, the senators requested answers to the following questions:
- What is the U.S. Government’s assessment regarding the potential human toll of a potential invasion and occupation – both in terms of civilians and Israeli soldiers killed or wounded?
- How will many hundreds of thousands of civilians receive the food, water, fuel, and medical care they need in the midst of what could be extremely heavy urban warfare?
- How will the request for humanitarian aid included in the supplemental funding request help mitigate the unfolding humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza?
- How long will it take to establish military control of Gaza, and what level of insurgent activity does the administration anticipate from that point?
- How will the success of the operation be measured?
- Are there alternatives to a ground invasion that would be effective in assuring Israel’s long-term security?
- How likely is it that other regional actors – especially Iran-backed proxies – would enter the conflict, and what effect would that have on U.S. forces in the region?
- What will this operation mean for the hostages still being held in Gaza?
- What political authority would administer Gaza after an Israeli operation?
- Will the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who have been displaced be guaranteed safe return to their homes?
- What impact will the invasion and occupation of Gaza have on the international community’s support for Israel?
- How does the administration anticipate the international community will address the ongoing human needs in Gaza—and the rest of Palestine—when the shooting and bombs stop? Will the United States take a leading role in this effort?
- What political process will follow this conflict, and what is the desired end-state in Gaza?
“The United States must take a leading role in charting out a future that respects the lives of Palestinians and Israelis alike,” wrote the senators.
To read the full letter, click here.