Two prominent Democratic senators have leveled harsh criticism at Israel, the Trump administration and U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley over the bloodshed in Gaza in recent days.
Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) blamed the violence on the Gaza border on “President Trump’s decision to move the U.S embassy [which] was a serious mistake that will reverberate throughout the region. U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital should have been resolved in the context of broader peace negotiations where both sides benefit.
“Instead, the president’s unilateral move has sparked violence and led the Palestinians to believe the United States is no longer an honest broker to this conflict.”
Adding her voice to the call for an investigation into Israel’s response to the violent protests organized by the Hamas terror organization, Feinstein singled out Haley for criticism:
“I’m deeply disappointed in Ambassador Haley’s decision to block a U.N. inquiry into yesterday’s events. Without question there should be an independent investigation when the lives of so many are lost.”
Israeli officials have rebuffed such demands, saying that IDF soldiers have acted in accordance with international law throughout the crisis. Gazans were warned to stay away from the fence and not to heed calls by Hamas to participate in the what amounted to riots and numerous attempts to breach the security fence and infiltrate into Israeli territory.
“I ask my colleagues here in the Security Council, who among us would accept this type of activity on your border?” Haley said.
“No one would,” she said. “No country in this chamber would act with more restraint than Israel has. In fact, the records of several countries here today suggest they would be much less restrained.”
On Wednesday, Hamas admitted that 50 of the 62 people killed in the disorders were Hamas members, thereby substantiating Israel’s claim that the protests were not intended as peaceful demonstrations.
The California senator urged: “Instead of remaining silent, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo should immediately head to the region to de-escalate this situation. Refusing to act will only reinforce the perception that this administration has chosen a side in this decades-long conflict and can no longer be an honest broker to bring peace to the region.”
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent who caucuses with Democrats and ran for president as a Democrat in 2016, also pointed the finger of blame at the administration and Israel, saying in a video posted on social media: “The embassy move brought tensions to a boiling point.”
“Innocent people are being killed,” Sanders told The Intercept.
“Those are terrible actions,” he said. “Instead of applauding Israel for its actions, Israel should be condemned. Israel has a right to security, but shooting unarmed protesters is not what it is about.”
Sanders also recommended that the U.S. intervene: “In light of yesterday’s horrific violence in Gaza, in which more than 50 Palestinians were killed and more than 2,000 were wounded by Israeli snipers, it’s important to understand the desperate situation out of which these protests have arisen. That is why I, along with 12 of my Senate colleagues, have sent a letter to the secretary of state making clear that the United States must play a leading role in addressing the situation.”
Meanwhile, Lt.-Gen. Moshe Yaalon (ret.), a former defense minister, said on Wednesday that “international investigations play into the hands of terrorists.” Germany, Britain, Belgium and others have demanded an investigation.
Yaalon called the demonstrations a “manipulation” by Hamas, which uses them to send armed terrorists to carry out attacks against Israeli troops and civilians.
“We don’t send our soldiers into Gaza. Hamas has to be blamed for sending their people to the fence. The international community has to blame them,” he was quoted as saying by The Jerusalem Post. “We don’t want to kill any Palestinians, and the IDF commanders in the field know that any death on the other side doesn’t serve our interests.”