November 08, 2023

Warren Joins Van Hollen, Murphy, Schatz, Reed, Majority of Democratic Caucus Ask Biden Administration for More Information on Strategy to Defeat Hamas, Protect Civilians in Gaza

Washington, D.C.  – U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) joined Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), and Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and the majority of the Senate Democratic Caucus in a letter to President Biden, condemning the brutal terror attacks by Hamas, expressing support for immediate funding to replenish Israel’s defensive systems, and seeking information on two clear U.S. priorities: supporting an Israeli strategy that will effectively degrade and defeat the threat from Hamas and taking all possible measures to protect civilians in Gaza. 

In addition to Senators Van Hollen, Murphy, Schatz, and Reed the letter was signed by Senators Peter Welch (D-Vt.), Angus King (I-Maine), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.), Ben Ray Lujan (D-N.M.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Tammy Baldwin (Wis.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Laphonza Butler (D-Calif.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and Tim Kaine (D-Va.).

“The attacks of October 7th brought back chilling memories of the United States’ own confrontation with terror twenty-two years ago. In light of our own experience, we want to underscore how critical it is that Israel: (1) learn from the mistakes the United States made in our fight against terrorism by focusing on realistic and achievable military goals; and (2) abide by the laws of war, including the protection of civilians. Doing so also offers Israel the very best chance of success against Hamas in the days and weeks ahead. These steps are also necessary to create the conditions for a lasting peace, including two states for two peoples,” wrote the senators. 

“We believe the United States should immediately provide Israel with the funding it needs to replenish its defensive systems, including Iron Dome and other air defense capabilities. But to better understand the efficacy of U.S. funding that supports Israel’s operations inside Gaza, we respectfully ask your team to provide us with information relative to these two clear U.S. priorities: supporting an Israeli strategy that will effectively degrade and defeat the threat from Hamas and taking all possible measures to protect civilians in Gaza,” continued the senators. 

The asked a series of questions, including an assessment of the viability of Israel’s military strategy in Gaza, and whether it prioritizes the release of hostages, whether there is an achievable plan for governing Gaza when the Israeli military operation ends, and if Israel supports the conditions necessary to ultimately achieve a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The senators also asked what specific mechanisms the administration is putting in place to ensure that Israeli military operations conducted inside Gaza are carried out in accordance with international humanitarian law and to ensure that any U.S.-provided equipment is used in a manner consistent with U.S. law. They requested an assessment of whether Israel’s military rules of engagement, particularly regarding mitigation of civilian casualties, align with U.S. policy and practice. And they asked the administration to seek immediate public assurances from Prime Minister Netanyahu that his coalition government will immediately stop the escalating extremist settler violence directed against unprotected Palestinians there, as well as assurances from President Abbas that his government take steps to quell any violence against Israelis. 

The senators also asked for answers on how assistance will advance efforts to engage with Israel, Egypt, and the broader international community to address the ongoing humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza, noting, “we must not only do our part to provide urgently needed humanitarian relief to Gaza, but also insist that Israel take all necessary measures to help us facilitate such relief to the two million civilians living there, half of them children. That includes fully restoring water, electricity, and communication services, expediting fuel deliveries through already well-established systems for avoiding diversion to Hamas, and opening the Kerem Shalom crossing in southern Israel to increase urgently needed humanitarian relief to Gaza. Aid workers and civilian sites like schools, hospitals, and UN facilities must be protected.”

“We support additional assistance to Israel that: 1) aligns with an Israeli strategy that you believe will effectively degrade and defeat the threat from Hamas; 2) prioritizes the release of hostages; 3) advances a viable and achievable military plan that supports a long-term vision for peace, security and Palestinian self-determination in the form of a two-state solution; 4) abides by U.S. and international law, including the protection of civilians; and 5) advances efforts to provide desperately needed humanitarian assistance to civilians in Gaza. The information requested in this letter will help us assure that U.S support for Israel’s operations inside Gaza achieves these objectives,” concluded the senators. 

Senator Warren remains committed to establishing lasting peace in Gaza and protecting innocent civilians, including: 

  • On November 3, Senators Warren and Markey sent a letter to National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and Secretary of State Antony Blinken, urging the Biden administration to take additional steps to bring Americans and Hamas-held hostages home, as well as providing necessary relief to the millions of innocent Palestinians trapped in Gaza. 
  • On November 2, Senator Warren and Senator Kaine led 13 of their Senate colleagues in calling for a short-term cessation of hostilities.
  • On November 1, Senators Warren, Sanders, Welch, and Merkley sent a letter to President Biden expressing serious concerns about what the invasion and potential occupation of Gaza would mean for the well-being of Palestinian residents and the long-term security of Israel.
  • On October 27, Senator Warren released a statement with 9 of her Senate colleagues calling for humanitarian pauses and hostage releases
  • On October 19, 2023, Senators Warren and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Near East, South Asia, Central Asia and Counterterrorism, led 32 of their Senate colleagues in urging the Biden administration to lead the international community in contributing to the United Nations’ emergency appeal of $294 million to address the immediate humanitarian needs in the West Bank and Gaza.
  • On October 18, 2023, Senators Warren, Markey, and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) wrote a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan urging them to do everything possible to provide assistance to U.S. citizens fleeing the Gaza Strip, including constituents from New England.