Booker Fires off a Letter at Biden

U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, joined U.S. Senators Chris Murphy (D-Conn), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and 20 colleagues in a letter to President Biden urging the administration to encourage Israeli officials to take five specific steps to significantly increase urgently needed humanitarian aid for civilians in Gaza.

“The humanitarian crisis in Gaza is dire and the civilian suffering is at an unacceptable and staggering level.  Ninety-three percent of Palestinians in Gaza are facing crisis levels of hunger. Eighty-five percent of the population is displaced. Seventy percent of those killed are women and children,” the senators wrote. “While the scale of the crisis is massive, the humanitarian assistance that is entering Gaza is just a fraction of what is needed to save lives. Since aid operations resumed on October 21, delivery of lifesaving assistance to Gaza continues to be hampered, despite no evidence of Hamas theft or diversion of humanitarian assistance provided via the United Nations or international non-governmental organizations (INGOs).”

In order to significantly increase the amount of humanitarian aid entering Gaza, the senators recommended the administration work with Israeli officials to take five specific steps:

  1. Repair and open a third border crossing at Erez to provide additional aid to north Gaza. Planned missions by humanitarian actors to reach north Gaza from the south have repeatedly not been allowed to proceed by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) due to cited security concerns, leaving hundreds of thousands living there stranded without enough food, water, and medical supplies and equipment.
  2. Streamline the convoluted inspections process for aid entering via the Rafah and Kerem Shalom border crossings, and issue a pre-approved list of items for entry.
  3. Establish a clear, enforceable deconfliction process inside Gaza to ensure humanitarian organizations can operate safely. Hundreds of health and humanitarian workers have died in Gaza, including humanitarian aid workers who have been killed in areas deemed “safe zones” by the IDF. Israeli authorities should establish a direct line of contact for the humanitarian community to the IDF, as well as hold regular meetings to review incidents and make improvements.
  4. Increase capacity for processing humanitarian aid and restart the import of commercial goods via the border crossing at Kerem Shalom. Before October 7th, hundreds of trucks filled with commercial goods crossed through Kerem Shalom into Gaza every day. The current humanitarian trucking operation can help reduce the suffering, but it cannot substitute for a functioning commercial sector.
  5. Open additional supply routes for humanitarian aid to enter Gaza. Every option must be explored to increase the amount of humanitarian and commercial goods going in, including via Jordan, the West Bank, Ashdod, and maritime routes. To the extent feasible, we also encourage you to explore whether U.S. military assets could help support humanitarian deliveries, via maritime or air routes.

“The largest daily amount of humanitarian aid entered Gaza on November 28th, during the seven-day humanitarian pause. Additional and longer humanitarian pauses are needed to enable a surge of assistance to enter Gaza and the safe movement of goods and people within Gaza. A humanitarian pause will also allow people to safely return to their homes in north Gaza. These steps will not solve the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, but taken together, they will alleviate the suffering for millions of people,” they concluded.

U.S. Senators Tom Carper (D-Del.), Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Angus King (D-Maine), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Ben Ray Lujan (D-N.M.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Bob Casey Jr. (D-Pa.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) also signed the letter.

Full text of the letter can be found here and follows below:

Dear President Biden,

The humanitarian crisis in Gaza is dire and the civilian suffering is at an unacceptable and staggering level. Ninety-three percent of Palestinians in Gaza are facing crisis levels of hunger. Eighty-five percent of the population is displaced. Seventy percent of those killed are women and children.

While the scale of the crisis is massive, the humanitarian assistance that is entering Gaza is just a fraction of what is needed to save lives. Since aid operations resumed on October 21, delivery of lifesaving assistance to Gaza continues to be hampered, despite no evidence of Hamas theft or diversion of humanitarian assistance provided via the United Nations or international non-governmental organizations (INGOs).

The United Nations system in Gaza, including the more than 13,000 employees of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), plays an indispensable role in providing lifesaving aid to people in need. The allegations that twelve UNRWA employees may have been involved in the October 7th terrorist attack on Israel are extremely troubling, and we welcome the announcement that those individuals were immediately terminated. Moving forward, there must be a swift and thorough investigation to ensure accountability so that the resumption of U.S. assistance through UNRWA, when appropriate, remains possible.

In order to significantly increase the amount of assistance entering Gaza, we ask your administration to work with Israeli officials to take the following urgent steps:

First, repair and open a third border crossing at Erez to provide additional aid to north Gaza. Planned missions by humanitarian actors to reach north Gaza from the south have repeatedly not been allowed to proceed by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) due to cited security concerns, leaving hundreds of thousands living there stranded without enough food, water, and medical supplies and equipment.

Second, streamline the convoluted inspections process for aid entering via the Rafah and Kerem Shalom border crossings, and issue a pre-approved list of items for entry. During a visit to the Rafah crossing earlier this month, Senators Van Hollen and Merkley saw firsthand hundreds of trucks lined up on the side of the road, waiting in the cumbersome screening and approval process that can take more than two weeks to complete, as well as an entire warehouse full of items rejected by Israeli authorities – including water testing equipment, medical kits for delivering babies, oxygen tanks, and tents – despite those same items having received Israeli pre-clearance prior to reaching the inspection point.

Third, establish a clear, enforceable deconfliction process inside Gaza to ensure humanitarian organizations can operate safely. Hundreds of health and humanitarian workers have died in Gaza, including humanitarian aid workers who have been killed in areas deemed “safe zones” by the IDF. Israeli authorities should establish a direct line of contact for the humanitarian community to the IDF, as well as hold regular meetings to review incidents and make improvements.

Fourth, increase capacity for processing humanitarian aid and restart the import of commercial goods via the border crossing at Kerem Shalom. Before October 7th, hundreds of trucks filled with commercial goods crossed through Kerem Shalom into Gaza every day. The current humanitarian trucking operation can help reduce the suffering, but it cannot substitute for a functioning commercial sector.

Fifth, open additional supply routes for humanitarian aid to enter Gaza. Every option must be explored to increase the amount of humanitarian and commercial goods going in, including via Jordan, the West Bank, Ashdod, and maritime routes. As conditions permit, we encourage you to sustain and expand current U.S. military support of humanitarian assistance efforts, where feasible.

Finally, humanitarian organizations are limited in their reach by the ongoing conflict. The largest daily amount of humanitarian aid entered Gaza on November 28th, during the seven-day humanitarian pause. Additional and longer humanitarian pauses are needed to enable a surge of assistance to enter Gaza and the safe movement of goods and people within Gaza. A humanitarian pause will also allow people to safely return to their homes in north Gaza.

These steps will not solve the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, but taken together, they will alleviate the suffering for millions of people.

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8 responses to “Booker Fires off a Letter at Biden”

  1. Booker writes a letter to the president. Wow, what a terrific leader. No mention of the terrorist actions of Hamas or their Iranian friends. No mention of American dead and injured recently by Iranian drones.

    Joe Biden and his democrat friends are to blame. Blood is on their hands. No one else. The situation Palestinians find themselves in are their own fault. They voted in Hamas some time ago. They refuse to acknowledge Israel and their right to exist. These people hate Israel and they hate the US.

    Given our open borders and weak military actions against those who threaten us, the worst is yet to come.

    And it’s coming to US soil. An attack here will happen the likes of which will make 9/11/01 look like a company picnic.

    Courtesy of democrats and the likes of Booker.

  2. First, a commenter above states: “ The situation Palestinians find themselves in are their own fault. They voted in Hamas some time ago.” The unborn inside their mothers and infants/children don’t vote. Your forgetting that fact while stating implicitly that they deserve to die because they are Palestinian is monstrous.

    Second, Booker and the rest who signed with him could vote to stop all military aid if they were really moved by the slaughter/slow death from starvation and disease of the Palestinians. What those Senators are doing now is maybe partly for political cover and partly because they might be nervous about a Nuremberg Trial 2.0 in the future when the US is no longer a global leader. In 2022 I believe there was a trial of a 98 year old woman who participated in the Nazi death machine that ensnared my mother and grandmother. Maybe those Senators feel they need some insurance.

  3. Too little too late Senators. Your hands are covered with blood and you will be living with the guilt for a long time.

    @Peter Z: Isn’t it funny that mighty Israel is constantly seeking recognition and right to exist from people they are colonizing, oppressing and killing?

  4. Thank you Congress people for any act of solidarity and compassion for humanitarian aid, for acknowledging the suffering of the oppressed. I know it can’t be easy for all of you to stand up against the
    US-fed Israeli war machine! I believe our country is just waking up to discover how much Israel owns our country and our politicians! The first step is always the hardest, but Americans are watching and we are going to continue to watch!

  5. Thank you Senators and some people in congress for acknowledging the humanitarian crisis in Gaza caused by indiscriminate bombing by Israel. 70% of the 30000 dead are women and children. About 2 million Palestinians are homeless as their houses have been flattened by US funded Israeli bombs. Food is weaponized and as CNN reported Palestinians are eating grass to survive.
    I thought people in Senate and Congress are in public service because they are empathetic and care for humanity.
    But where is their humanity?
    It’s too little too late

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