PROXY WAR: Biden’s $235M funding of Palestine in 2021 contributed to Hamas’ violent attacks on Israel
10/12/2023 // Belle Carter // Views

Back in 2018, then-President Donald Trump stopped sending aid to Palestine, a move that cut the 71-year history of funding the region. Because of this, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) said U.S. taxpayers had violated an international obligation to fund them.

According to Forbes, U.S. taxpayers have sent over $6.3 billion through the United Nations to subsidize Palestinian refugees living in Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon since 1950. During former President Barack Obama's last year in office, the U.S. sent $359 million, which was only $39 million less than 2014's all-time high of $398.7 million.

Now, as Israel declared war on the Gaza Strip after an unprecedented attack by the Islamist militant group Hamas over the weekend, experts traced the origins of this conflict back to Trump's move being reversed by President Joe Biden in April 2021, when he agreed with the PLO and provided $235 million in aid to the Palestinians. It included $150 million in humanitarian assistance for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) and $75 million in economic and development assistance in the West Bank and Gaza. They cited that just weeks after the aid reinstatement, rockets were again landing on Israelis and the region was at war.

Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) suggested in a series of posts on X, formerly Twitter, how there is a connection between the incursion from Hamas and the aid relief promised to Palestine.

"Biden admin officials are now saying they didn't think pouring millions of dollars into Hamas areas would fuel terrorism," she said in a subsequent post. "The lies keep piling up." She also told the Biden administration to stop all aid to the Palestinian Authority and the "Iran-backed terrorist group Hamas." In a statement, Trump also described the Hamas attacks as a disgrace and said that Israel has "every right to defend itself." "Sadly, American taxpayer dollars helped fund these attacks, which many reports are saying came from the Biden administration," the former president said.

Reports indicated that Hamas fighters have killed more than 800 Israelis in assaults on multiple towns in southern Israel. In response, Israel has launched a bombing campaign in the Gaza Strip, killing more than 500 Palestinians. It has mobilized troops along the Gaza border, apparently in preparation for a ground attack. On Monday, it announced a "total blockade" of the Gaza Strip, stopping the supply of food, fuel and other essential commodities to the already besieged enclave in an act that under international law amounts to a war crime.

Austria and Germany already confirmed they would be suspending aid to Palestinians in response to Hamas' attack. The European Union foreign minister is set to have an emergency meeting in Brussels to discuss future development assistance. "E.U. funding supports most essential services for the Palestinian population and contributes direct financing also to the Palestinian Authority," an E.U. Commission spokesperson told reporters on Monday.

Meanwhile, the White House National Security Council (NSC) dismissed suggestions that the $6 billion in frozen Iranian money which had been freed up in exchange for the release of five American detainees was used by Iran, which supports Hamas, to help plot the attacks that broke out on Saturday. The NSC denied it was taxpayers' money and also said that it hasn't been accessed by Iran. (Related: WSJ: Iran helped Hamas plan its surprise attack on Israel, shortly after Biden handed them $6 billion.)

"Not a single cent from these funds has been spent, and when it is spent, it can only be spent on things like food and medicine for the Iranian people," Adrienne Watson, a spokeswoman for the NSC, said in a statement on Saturday. "These funds have absolutely nothing to do with the horrific attacks today, and this is not the time to spread disinformation."

Biden condemns 'sheer evil' of Hamas attacks, expresses support for Israel in the war

At the White House, Biden called the Hamas attacks "an act of sheer evil" and said Washington was rushing additional military assistance to Israel, including ammunition and interceptors to replenish the Iron Dome aerial defense system. He called for Israel to follow the "law of war" in its response.

Reuters reported that the president told news outlets the U.S. had "enhanced our military force posture in the region to strengthen our deterrence," including by moving an aircraft carrier strike group and fighter aircraft. "Let me say again to any country, any organization, anyone thinking of taking advantage of the situation, I have one word: don’t," said Biden, in an apparent reference to Iran and its proxies in the region.

Biden also dispatched his top diplomat Antony Blinken to Israel, who will deliver "a message of solidarity and support," State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said.

Meanwhile, Israel vowed to escalate its response to an attack by the Palestinian militant group Hamas with a ground offensive.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, speaking to soldiers near the Gaza fence, said: "Hamas wanted a change and it will get one. What was in Gaza will no longer be. We started the offensive from the air; later on, we will also come from the ground. We've been controlling the area since Day Two and we are on the offensive. It will only intensify."

Follow to read more stories related to the developing conflict between Israel and Palestine.

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