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Connolly Statement on Humanitarian Aid and Protection of Civilians in Gaza

Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA), a senior member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and the President Emeritus of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, released the following statement:

“I have constituents who have been deeply affected by the war in Gaza. Friends and families are grieving the loss of loved ones, including Israelis killed during Hamas’ onslaught on October 7th as well as Palestinian civilians tragically killed during the ongoing war in Gaza.

As one of the first Members of Congress to call for a humanitarian pause in Gaza, I welcome the intense diplomacy waged by the Biden Administration to protect Palestinian and Israeli civilians. It has grown increasingly clear that Israel’s current approach, which has taken an unacceptable toll on a civilian population, is untenable and threatens undermining our shared goal to defeat Hamas.

We must do everything we can to support the Biden Administration’s efforts to secure a pause in the fighting in Gaza to allow hostages to be released, humanitarian aid to be delivered, and civilians to seek safety away from areas of heavy fighting. As we facilitate the movement of people and humanitarian assistance through the Rafah Crossing, we must draw a clear red line that protects those seeking evacuation from Gaza or trying to access desperately needed humanitarian aid.

I welcome the Biden Administration’s support for Israel and ongoing hostage recovery efforts. Israel has a right and responsibility to defend itself, and Congress must reject Republican partisan politics and deliver immediately the assistance Israel needs to defend itself against Hamas, a terrorist organization committed to the annihilation of Israel. But it must do so in a way that is consistent with international humanitarian law that protects non-combatants.

The United States must deliver robust funding for the aid necessary to avert a cataclysmic humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Palestinians must have access to water, fuel, medicine, and electricity.
I look forward to working with the Administration to make clear to the Israeli government that more must be done to protect civilians in the region, including within safe zones, humanitarian corridors, in refugee camps, and around border crossings.

This war was started by Hamas. Palestinians and Israelis alike will not be safe until Hamas has been deprived of its ability to attack and endanger civilian populations. The safety and security of the people of the region must remain our paramount concern.”
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