National Security

Dem Lawmakers Have ‘Extremely Frank’ Conversation With IDF Over Its Counteroffensive In Gaza

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A number of Democratic lawmakers met with Israel Defense Forces (IDF) officials on Monday to discuss the ongoing counteroffensive in the Gaza Strip.

The IDF is conducting a sweeping counteroffensive to eradicate Hamas from the Gaza Strip after the terrorist group launched attacks on Oct. 7 that killed over 1,200 Israelis and foreign nationals. More than a dozen Senate Democrats met with IDF officials on Capitol Hill to have an “extremely frank” discussion about the counteroffensive’s effects on the Palestinian people in Gaza, according to NBC News. (RELATED: ‘The Worst Thing For Israel’: House Republicans Quickly Dismiss Biden’s Latest Aid Package For Israel And Ukraine)

“We just want to be assured that they are abiding by American values as they try to dismantle Hamas, and we all conveyed that collectively and clearly,” Democratic Hawaii Sen. Brian Schatz told reporters. “I do believe they heard us, but obviously we have a long way to go.”

“There were tough questions and very strong answers,” Democratic Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal said, according to NBC News. “And I think generally our Israeli friends … did some substantial good in explaining the challenges of conducting this war against Hamas and dismantling Hamas as a terrorist organization. And there was no question about the solidarity and support of Israel, even if there were some critical comments.”

Thousands of Palestinian civilians have become casualties of war as the Israel-Hamas conflict rages on within Gaza, and a number of lawmakers have expressed concern over the effects of the IDF’s increasing operations in the region, according to Punchbowl News. Some Democratic lawmakers have proposed adding conditions to further military aid for Israel.

“I think it’s important that [this conversation] happens. It’s not just me,” said Democratic Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders on Monday, according to Punchbowl News. “I do not support simply giving $14 billion to Israel without any conditions at all. So I think it’s an issue that needs to be debated.”

Some Democratic and Republican lawmakers have rejected the idea of making aid to Israel conditional. “I don’t think there’s a need for conditionality,” Democratic Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair Ben Cardin said Monday, according to Punchbowl. “The way the president has handled his conversations with the Israelis has produced tangible results.”

“There can be no conditions on aid that will help the Jewish state eradicate Hamas terrorists,” Republican Tennessee Sen. Marsha Blackburn said on Tuesday. Senate Democrats will decide whether conditions should be added to the aid during a caucus lunch on Tuesday, according to Punchbowl. The House passed an aid package for Israel worth $14 billion on Nov. 2, though it may have difficulty passing in the Senate as the proposed funds would come from IRS budget tax cuts, which Democrat lawmakers and the Biden administration have vocally disapproved of.

The $14 billion in proposed aid is part of a larger $106 billion aid request from the Biden administration, which also includes $61 billion for Ukraine and $13.6 billion for the southern border crisis. Approximately $1.4 billion of the aid will be delivered to blue cities struggling with a heightened influx of migrants.

Blumenthal, Schatz, Sanders, Blackburn and Cardin did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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