White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Friday that Palestinian civilians are “suffering as a result” of Hamas “terrorists” who this week launched a barrage of rockets from Gaza into Israel, prompting Israel Defense Force retaliation.
Psaki repeatedly denounced the Islamic fundamentalist party during her daily press briefing — after President Biden on Thursday said Israel wasn’t overreacting by responding with airstrikes.
“As the president conveyed in his statement, Israel has the right to self-defense. Our focus remains on continuing to use every lever at our disposal to de-escalate the situation on the ground. I think it’s also important to remind people, Hamas is a terrorist organization,” Psaki said.
“Hamas does not represent the views, the families, the people who are suffering — all of the Palestinian people who are suffering as a result of this violence. But there’s no justification for 1,500 rockets coming from Hamas into Israeli community — communities in Israel either.”
Psaki defended Biden’s unlocking this year of $75 million in aid to Palestinians, saying it was for humanitarian purposes.
“That was humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian people. Again, Hamas is a terrorist organization. The Palestinian people are also suffering as a result of the actions of this terrorist organization and the steps — the rockets that they have launched into Israel,” Psaki said.
The White House has defended Israel despite an emerging pro-Palestinian faction among left-wing Democrats.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) slammed Biden for taking Israel’s side.
“By only stepping in to name Hamas’ actions — which are condemnable — & refusing to acknowledge the rights of Palestinians, Biden reinforces the false idea that Palestinians instigated this cycle of violence,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted. “This is not neutral language. It takes a side — the side of occupation.”
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) accused Israel of “terrorism” against Palestinians.
Hamas, since a 2007 Palestinian civil war, has controlled the densely populated and poverty-stricken Gaza Strip. The group launched rockets toward Jerusalem and Tel Aviv following clashes in East Jerusalem after an Israeli court ordered the eviction of non-paying tenant Arab families from homes on land claimed by Jews that changed hands in earlier wars.
Israeli airstrikes have caused some large buildings in Gaza housing Hamas leaders’ offices to collapse.
Gaza officials say the death toll is 122 from the conflict. Six Palestinians were fatally shot by Israeli troops in the West Bank. At least six Israeli civilians died from the Hamas rocket barrage.
Former President Donald Trump, who is considering a rematch against Biden in 2024, faulted Biden for the violence, saying it happened as a result of “Biden’s weakness and lack of support for Israel.”
The Trump administration recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights and moved the US Embassy to Jerusalem following a decades-long reluctance due to Arab claims to the city. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, led an effort that brokered diplomatic relations between Israel and four Arab countries.
“When I was in office we were known as the Peace Presidency, because Israel’s adversaries knew that the United States stood strongly with Israel and there would be swift retribution if Israel was attacked,” Trump said this week.
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