Sen. Peter Welch, D-Vt., said Monday he has ‘grave concerns’ about Israel’s potential ground invasion into Gaza amid an ongoing war prompted by Hamas’ terror attack on the Jewish State.
In a statement released Monday, Welch said he has ‘grave concerns about the wisdom and military efficacy’ of an Israeli ground invasion in Gaza and that there is ‘no doubt’ an imminent ground invasion would be ‘catastrophic for innocent Palestinians in Gaza and jeopardize urgent efforts to save hostages.’
‘Israel has the absolute right to attack Hamas for the brutal, heinous slaughter of more than 1,400 Israelis and the taking of more than 200 hostages,’ Welch wrote. ‘But, Israel also has a responsibility to protect Palestinian civilians living in Gaza, including one million children. Already, more than 5,000 Palestinians have died.’
More than 5,700 people have been killed and thousands more wounded in Gaza and Israel since Hamas launched its largest attack against Israel in decades on Oct. 7, leading Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to declare war on the terrorist group.
Israel has indicated it will be conducting a ground invasion into Gaza to attack Hamas, although there is no definitive timetable on when such an attack would begin.
Hamas has taken more than 220 people hostage, but at least four have been released thus far, including two Americans who were freed last week. The Israeli military told The Times of Israel that it is concerned additional hostage releases by Hamas could lead the political leadership to delay a ground invasion or stop it midway.
U.S. and international officials, lawmakers and humanitarian aid groups have expressed concerns about the conditions in Gaza after Israel cut off water and fuel supply to the region following Hamas’ initial attack.
‘The humanitarian conditions in Gaza are terrible and getting worse every day,’ Welch said in his statement. ‘One million Palestinians, including women and children, have been displaced. Most are living in the open—without food, without shelter, fuel, water, or access to medicine. United Nations relief efforts have begun but are unable to meet the extreme needs of the moment.’
‘A ground invasion would further exacerbate the dire conditions in Gaza,’ Welch concluded.
Last week, Welch and fellow Democrat Sens. Brian Schatz, of Hawaii, and Chris Van Hollen, of Maryland, wrote a letter to Biden urging that ‘every effort be made to avoid civilian harm and to allow access to humanitarian aid for those in need,’ including restoring access to food, electricity, water, fuel and medicine to civilians in Gaza and establishing a humanitarian corridor to allow aid into Gaza and safe passage for U.S. citizens who wish to evacuate the region.
The international community has been working to supply civilians of Gaza with humanitarian aid in the wake of the violence in the region. Egypt, Israel and the United Nations facilitated a 20-truck convoy carrying humanitarian assistance that was delivered to Gaza through the Rafah border crossing last week.
President Biden and five other Western leaders said in a joint statement Sunday that they ‘welcomed the announcement of the first humanitarian convoys to reach Palestinians in need in Gaza and committed to continue coordinating with partners in the region to ensure sustained and safe access to food, water, medical care, and other assistance required to meet humanitarian needs.’