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Shaheen Joins Van Hollen, Democrat Colleagues in Letter to President Biden Requesting More Information On Strategy to Defeat Hamas, Protect Civilians in Gaza

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), senior member of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC), joined a group of Senators, led by U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Jack Reed (D-RI), in a letter to President Biden that strongly condemns the brutal attack by Hamas on innocent Israelis on October 7 and urges the United States to work with the Government of Israel to ensure an effective strategy to degrade and defeat Hamas while ensuring the safe return of hostages and continued responsiveness to the needs of civilians in Gaza. Shaheen continues to support immediate funding to replenish Israel’s defensive systems so it can defeat Hamas and counter broader regional threats to its long-term security and stability.

In part, the Senators wrote: “We have joined you in condemning the brutal terror attacks that Hamas conducted against Israel and agree with you that Israel has the right to defend itself and hold Hamas accountable. […] The attacks of October 7th brought back chilling memories of the United States’ own confrontation with terror twenty-two years ago. In light of our own experience, we want to underscore how critical it is that Israel: (1) learn from the mistakes the United States made in our fight against terrorism by focusing on realistic and achievable military goals; and (2) abide by the laws of war, including the protection of civilians.”

The Senators raise a series of concerns about the ongoing conflict and request an assessment from the Biden Administration regarding Israel’s military strategy in Gaza, the release of hostages held by Hamas and plans for governance in Gaza once the military operation ends. They also request an assessment on Israel’s military rules of engagement and they ask the Administration to seek immediate public assurances from Prime Minister Netanyahu that his coalition government will immediately stop the escalating extremist settler violence directed against Palestinians in the West Bank, as well as assurances from President Abbas that his government take steps to quell any violence against Israelis.

In closing, they wrote: “We support additional assistance to Israel that: 1) aligns with an Israeli strategy that you believe will effectively degrade and defeat the threat from Hamas; 2) prioritizes the release of hostages; 3) advances a viable and achievable military plan that supports a long-term vision for peace, security and Palestinian self-determination in the form of a two-state solution; 4) abides by U.S. and international law, including the protection of civilians; and 5) advances efforts to provide desperately needed humanitarian assistance to civilians in Gaza.”

Along with Shaheen, Van Hollen, Murphy, Schatz and Reed, the U.S. Senators were joined by: Peter Welch (D-VT), Angus King (I-ME), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Tina Smith (D-MN), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Raphael Warnock (D-GA), Jon Ossoff (D-GA), Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Tom Carper (D-DE), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Ed Markey (D-MA), Laphonza Butler (D-CA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Tim Kaine (D-VA).

Shaheen is a strong supporter of Israel and has continually utilized her leadership on SFRC as well as the Senate Armed Services and Appropriations Committees to bolster Israel and its people. In response to the horrific terror attack on October 7, Shaheen swiftly condemned Hamas and called for enduring support for Israel while reaffirming d Israels’ right to defend itself and its people. She also joined letters calling for the release of the American hostages in Gaza, support for a strong humanitarian response in Gaza and a safe pathway to safety for Americans stuck in Gaza. She has joined efforts to call for strategic and tactical pauses—led by Israel and regional leaders—in the fighting in Gaza to get people out and humanitarian aid in. She has reiterated that, for this to work, Israel must be able to pursue their security objectives in line with international laws and norms. Shaheen also believes that safely securing the release of all the hostages is paramount.

During Jack Lew’s confirmation hearing, she posed questions to him and later voted to confirm him as U.S. Ambassador to Israel.