Democratic lawmakers with defense backgrounds urge change in Israel war strategy

Democratic lawmakers with defense backgrounds urge change in Israel war strategy

Iraq and Afghanistan war veteran Rep. Jason Crow, D-Colo., is among the signatories of a letter to President Joe Biden urging him to use his influence on Israel to change its war strategy in Gaza. File Pool Photo by Mandel Ngan/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 18 (UPI) — Six House Democrats with backgrounds in national security and counterterrorism on Monday called on President Joe Biden to urge Israel to change its military tactics in the war against Hamas.

In a letter to the president, the lawmakers sharply criticized Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s strategic choices in Gaza, where close to 20,000 Palestinians, mostly women and children, have been killed during the fighting since Oct. 7, according to Palestinian health officials.

United Nations officials have warned of an “urgent humanitarian crisis” in the enclave as aid workers say residents displaced by the fighting are facing shortages of food and water and lack sanitation in overcrowded living spaces, increasing the likelihood of diseases and outbreaks.

Declaring they are “deeply concerned” with Netanyahu’s war strategy, the Democrats told Biden the “mounting civilian death toll and humanitarian crisis are unacceptable and not in line with American interests; nor do they advance the cause of security for our ally, Israel.”

Rather than serving to defeat Hamas, the group said Netanyahu’s strategy instead “jeopardizes efforts to destroy the terrorist organization Hamas and secure the release of all hostages.”

Lawmakers signing the letter include four U.S. Armed Services veterans — Reps. Jason Crow of Colorado, Mikie Sherrill of New Jersey, Seth Moulton of Massachusetts and Chrissy Houlahan of Pennsylvania.

The signatories also include a pair of former CIA officials, Reps. Abigail Spanberger of Virginia and Elissa Slotkin of Michigan.

“We have dedicated our lives to national security and believe our nation’s values are a source of credibility and power,” they told the president. “Some of us also spent years fighting America’s war on terror. We know from personal and often painful experience, that you can’t destroy a terror ideology with military force alone. And it can, in fact, make it worse.”

“Accordingly, we urge you to continue to use all our leverage to achieve an immediate and significant shift of military strategy and tactics in Gaza,” the group said, adding that they have seen no signs of a shift in Israel’s strategy from their vantage points on the various House committees overseeing intelligence, armed services and foreign affairs.

Their letter came as Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin called on Israel to make stronger efforts to protect Palestinian civilians during a visit to Tel Aviv on Monday, adding his voice to similar views expressed by U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan last week.

Displaced Palestinians who fled from fighting between Israel and Hamas in Khan Yunis take refuge in makeshift shelters in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on December 18, 2023. Photo by Ismael Mohamad/UPI | License Photo  » …
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