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Connolly Statement on the War 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:

"The current conflict in Gaza needs to be approached with moral clarity. Hamas’ bloody and heinous terrorist attack on October 7th started this war. It must be condemned for what it was. Hamas has made its intentions overwhelmingly clear, stating that October 7th was just the beginning. We must not forget about the hostages Hamas is still holding, among them American citizens, and the fact that Hamas has continued offensive rocket attacks into Israel. Israel has a right and a responsibility to ensure its own security and protect itself from the threat posed by Hamas.

"I have worked on issues related to Israel for more than 40 years, and remain a strong supporter of the U.S.-Israel relationship.

"In the face of the ever-growing humanitarian crisis in Gaza, however, I believe we must recognize the reality of the moment. I cannot support the idea that in order to ferret out Hamas, two-thirds of all structures in northern Gaza must be destroyed and 15-20,000 civilians killed. I cannot support a strategy which relies upon dropping thousands of “dumb bombs,” unguided munitions that pose a greater risk to civilians. I cannot support the forced displacement of almost two million Palestinians, hundreds of thousands of whom will now have no homes to go back to.

"The United Nations and various NGOs have consistently warned that disease; water and medicine shortages; and possible starvation conditions will create a catastrophic humanitarian crisis in Gaza if we fail to act now.

"The current Israeli government is only throwing fuel on the fire. Members of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s cabinet are openly advocating for ethnic cleansing: destroy Gaza and displace its entire population – a reprehensible proposition that should be rejected by all people of conscience.

"The U.S. government must use every piece of leverage it has to bring a lasting peace to the region, where Israelis and Palestinians alike can pursue their lives free from the threat of violence. And if a mutually agreed upon ceasefire is attainable, then that should be our goal. But that requires two parties to an agreement that Hamas has rejected outright. We cannot deny the truth of that.

"We have a moral obligation to insist that Israel fight Hamas in a way that abides by international law and reflects our shared democratic values. Wanton indiscriminate killing cannot be justified. Hamas must release the hostages it holds and end its offensive campaign on Israel. As Israel announces a “new phase” in the conflict, it must end its indiscriminate bombing, and see that unfettered humanitarian aid and access to Gaza are surged. These must be our near-term goals in order to staunch the bleeding and address the crisis in Gaza.

"Ultimately, we must push for a two-state solution that will require sacrifices on both sides but that promises the hope that today’s suffering and killing will end and a new peaceful co-existence will emerge."
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