Bernie Sanders slams Biden's response to Israel's Gaza bombardment

'Palestinian Lives Matter': Bernie Sanders slams Biden's response to Israeli assault on Gaza
2 min read
15 May, 2021
In a column for The New York Times, Bernie Sanders said that not enough attention is being placed on the plight of Palestinians.
Bernie Sanders slammed the US president over comments he made about Israel [Getty]
Former Democrat presidential bid nominee Bernie Sanders criticised Benjamin Netanyahu’s escalation of violence against Palestinians and the lacklustre response by the US, and he pushed for a political response that leads with "Palestinian Lives Matter".

"Why do we seem to take notice of the violence in Israel and Palestine only when rockets are falling on Israel?" he asked in an op-ed for The New York Times.

The independent congressman criticised the US response to Israeli aggression in Gaza and in East Jerusalem where dozens of fatalities have been recorded.

Israeli airstrikes have killed 139 Palestinians in Gaza since Monday, including 39 children and 22 women, in what has been globally condemned by world leaders and rights activists.

In a stark example of the disproportionate violence by Israel, ten members of the Abu Hatab family were killed in airstrikes in Gaza, including five children. A baby boy was the sole survivor.

Despite global condemnation, US President Joe Biden, in his first address about the crisis, said Israel "had a right to defend itself".

In a follow-up statement after his comment garnered criticism, he insisted that Israel’s response was not an "overreaction".

Rights groups have accused Tel Aviv of using disproportionate force amounting to collective punishment, and Sanders has appealed to the US to hold Israel accountable.

"In this moment of crisis, the United States should be urging an immediate cease-fire," he said.

"We should also understand that, while Hamas firing rockets into Israeli communities is absolutely unacceptable, today’s conflict did not begin with those rockets."

Violence escalated after increased aggression in East Jerusalem following attempts to forcibly expel Palestinian families from their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood.

Days later on the eve of Eid, Israel stormed the Al Aqsa mosque during Friday prayers, prompting injuries and an onset of protests across the West Bank and globally.

Israel responded with water cannons, tear gas, mass arrests and rubber bullets.

Sanders acknowledged that the forced expulsions are part of Israel’s systematic oppression of Palestinians, down to a "legal system designed to facilitate their forced displacement".

"Mr. Netanyahu has cultivated an increasingly intolerant and authoritarian type of racist nationalism," he said, adding that "his frantic effort to stay in power and avoid prosecution for corruption, Mr. Netanyahu has legitimised these forces".

"We must uphold international standards of human rights consistently, even when it’s politically difficult. We must recognise that Palestinian rights matter. Palestinian lives matter."

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