Bernie Sanders to Benjamin Netanyahu: ‘Stop Murdering Innocent People’
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Author: Martin Pengelly
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The Guardian

The Vermont senator and former US presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders has a message for the prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu: “Stop murdering innocent people.”

Sanders delivered his blunt message in an interview with MSNBC on Tuesday, a day after seven aid workers were killed by an Israeli strike in Gaza.

“Stop murdering innocent people,” Sanders said. “Two-thirds of the people who have been killed, over 32,000 people have been killed [in Gaza], are women and children. This is inexcusable.”

Netanyahu is unlikely to heed advice from the Democratic socialist senator, a hero to the US left who sits as an independent but caucuses with Democrats. But Sanders’ words will be heard across a Democratic party in upheaval over Israel’s war against Hamas and the Biden administration’s reluctance to rein in Netanyahu.

Hamas attacked Israel on 7 October, killing about 1,200 people. Since then, Israel has pounded Gaza while ignoring calls for restraint.

“What’s going on in Gaza now is one of the worst humanitarian disasters in the modern history of the world,” Sanders said. “I mean, we’re talking about the possibility of hundreds of thousands of children and others starving to death.

“And it’s absolutely true that Hamas, terrorist organisation, started this war. But it is also true that right now, what Israel is doing is fighting not just Hamas but going to war against the entire Palestinian people.

“ … We’re talking about 70% of the housing units in Gaza that have been destroyed or damaged. We’re talking about 1.8 million people who have been displaced, thrown out of their homes. We’re talking about people who today don’t have food, don’t have water, don’t have medical supplies, don’t have fuel.

“It is horrible. It is inexcusable. And it’s got to end right now. The United States cannot continue to be complicit in the horror that is taking place now.”

In February, only two Senate Democrats joined Sanders in voting against new aid for Israel. That bill stalled in the House thanks to Republican resistance to arming Ukraine but the Biden administration has continued to supply Israel with weapons.

“Israel has the right to go after Hamas who started this war,” Sanders said. “Israel does not have the right to … create a situation where they’re stopping humanitarian aid from getting in [to Gaza]. The result of this is children are starving to death right now. Do we want to be complicit in that? The answer, in my view, is most Americans … do not want to be complicit.”

The US recently abstained from a United Nations vote for a ceasefire in Gaza, its strongest move yet to signal disapproval to Netanyahu. But as Israeli attacks continue, so do protests on the US left, with the potential to affect election-year events including the Democratic convention in Chicago in August.

Sanders was asked whether he was worried about the effect protests might have on Biden’s chances of re-election.

“Yeah, I am,” he said.

“No matter what, it’s going to be a difficult election and I’m going to do everything that I can, despite my disagreement with the president over what’s going on in Gaza, to make sure that Donald Trump is not elected president of the United States. That would be a horrific disaster for our country.

“But do I think that a lot of young people, people of colour, many people … the polling is very clear. The Democratic base wants to stop funding for Netanyahu’s war machine.

“So if your question is, is it going to hurt the president unless he turns this around? Yeah, it will.”



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