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Vermont’s congressional delegation reacts to attack on Israel

Oct 10, 2023

Ohad Zwigenberg/Associated Press. An Israeli soldier takes a position in Kibbutz Kfar Azza on Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2023. Hamas militants overran Kfar Azza on Saturday, where many Israelis were killed and taken captive. (AP Photo/Ohad Zwigenberg)

All three members of Vermont’s congressional delegation have strongly condemned Hamas’ attack against Israel.

Speaking to Vermont Public Tuesday morning, Sen. Peter Welch said the United States should give immediate military help to the Israeli government.

Welch visited Israel in March, and in a letter to President Joe Biden expressed concern that Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu’s government was not interested in pursuing a two-state solution that would create an independent Palestinian state.

Welch said the recent terrorist attacks have taken this discussion off the table.

“That’s not the time where people are open-minded to discussion, and that’s what’s so heartbreaking for me,” Welch said. “This is not ultimately going to be resolved unless we have two stable, secure, safe states — Hamas has really undercut that.”

In an interview Tuesday afternoon with Vermont Public, Rep. Becca Balint also condemned Hamas’ attack on Israel and echoed Welch’s concerns that the attacks undermine efforts toward a two-state solution.

Balint also said she supports providing Israel with more U.S. military aid. The first-term representative also said she hopes other countries in the region will step up and take a leadership role in addressing the impact of the violence by Hamas.

“It was a horrible, horrible act of terror, and certainly Jordan and Egypt can be doing more right now to ensure the safe release of the hostages, but this isn’t something that we alone can do as the United States,” Balint said.

Biden on Tuesday afternoon called Hamas’ attack on Israel “pure unadulterated evil,” and vowed “We stand with Israel.” He confirmed at least 14 Americans have been killed in the conflict and some Americans are being held hostage by Hamas.

In a statement released on Wednesday, Sen. Bernie Sanders also condemned the attack and echoed concerns that the it would be “a major setback for any hope of peace and reconciliation in the region.”

“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,” Sanders said. “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 will make it much more difficult to address that tragic reality and will embolden extremists on both sides, continuing the cycle of violence.”

The senator also urged Israeli forces to use restraint.

“The targeting of civilians is a war crime, no matter who does it. Israel’s blanket denial of food, water, and other necessities to Gaza is a serious violation of international law and will do nothing but harm innocent civilians,” he said. “The United States has rightly offered solidarity and support to Israel in responding to Hamas’ attack. But we must also insist on restraint from Israeli forces attacking Gaza and work to secure UN humanitarian access.”

Story Written by Bob Kinzel, Vermont Public

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