Merkley: Hamas Isn't Stealing Aid from Trucks, Except that One Time They Did, Israel Starving Civilians as a Strategy

On Wednesday’s broadcast of Boston NPR news station WBUR’s “Here and Now,” Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) responded to claims by Israel that it hasn’t held up aid and Hamas has stolen aid and a question on whether Hamas stealing aid is a concern of his by stating that “apart from one particular incident on one day,” Hamas isn’t stealing aid from trucks, and “Hamas is not in a position to be able to organize and intercept trucks and take the food. That is not what’s going on.” He also claimed, “There is a strong sense in Israel that, look, yes, Hamas is the enemy, but they’re hosted by all the Palestinians in Gaza. So, we’re not going to let in this aid as long as hostages are held.”

Merkley said, [relevant remarks begin around 1:20] “There is a strong sense in Israel that, look, yes, Hamas is the enemy, but they’re hosted by all the Palestinians in Gaza. So, we’re not going to let in this aid as long as hostages are held. And believe you me, I am vastly supportive of Israel going after Hamas, but starvation is not a legitimate strategy. It is, in fact, under international law, a war crime.”

Co-host Scott Tong then asked, “Israel’s response to some of these — as you know — is that it is not holding up aid. It has blamed the U.N. agency UNRWA for UNRWA’s logistical problems in Israel’s view, and the Prime Minister, Netanyahu, has said, ‘Hamas is coming at gunpoint and stealing the food.’ Are those concerns you share?”

Merkley answered, “They are not accurate. And we’ve had international journalists look at these questions and see that it is Israel that is providing the admittance of the trucks. Furthermore, we have asked for official paperwork from Israel and from our agencies — our intelligence agencies, is Hamas holding up these trucks? The answer is always, apart from one particular incident on one day, the answer is no. Hamas is not in a position to be able to organize and intercept trucks and take the food. That is not what’s going on.”

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett


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