As Israeli military operations against Hamas continue in the wake of the terror group’s heinous attacks on the Israeli people, and as the ongoing conflict continues to take a terrible toll on Palestinian civilians in Gaza, J Street strongly supports urgent calls for humanitarian pauses in the fighting.
Such pauses can and should be used to help bring more desperately needed aid to civilians in Gaza, including food, water, medicine and fuel; to establish safe zones and help civilians get out of harm’s way; to help ensure the protection of civilians wherever they are in Gaza; to facilitate ongoing negotiations for the urgent release of Israeli and multinational hostages held by Hamas and other militant groups; and to facilitate the safe exit from Gaza of US citizens and other foreign nationals who wish to leave.
Pauses in the fighting also can and should be used to help ensure that the Israeli government’s plans for further military operations against Hamas are strategic, pragmatic, and in accordance with international law. As it rightly supports Israel’s right to defend its citizens and hold Hamas accountable for its crimes, the Biden Administration should also be using all of its influence to push its Israeli counterparts to protect the lives and safety of Palestinian civilians – and to fight Hamas in a way that will not ultimately undercut Israel’s long-term security or risk a wider regional conflagration.
No matter how well-planned, a large-scale invasion of Gaza risks triggering a spiral of escalation that could lead to a multi-front war, with deeply dangerous consequences for Israelis, Palestinians, the wider region, and the United States. The US must be clear with Israeli leaders about these risks – and about lessons learned from our country’s own calamitous invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq after the horrific terror attacks on 9/11.
J Street welcomes Secretary Blinken’s statement to the United Nations Security Council that “humanitarian pauses must be considered” and further reports that the Biden Administration is now pushing for them. We also welcome new statements in support of humanitarian pauses from Members of Congress including Reps. Nadler and Goldman, Rep. Schakowsky, and Reps. Jacobs, Raskin, and Wild.
We encourage all Members of Congress to support the push for humanitarian pauses in the fighting and the restoration of power and water, and we urge the Biden Administration to continue to pursue whatever steps are necessary to support Israeli security, counter Hamas, protect Palestinian civilians, uphold international law and avert regional escalation.