Biden calls for end to humanitarian crisis in Gaza

Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden on Sunday called on both Israelis and Palestinians to take steps to achieve peace that can relieve the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip.

“We all need to work together to address the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Gaza, because it is a crisis,” Biden said in pre-recorded remarks played to 18,000 attendees at the annual conference for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

“And we’re not going to achieve that future if we don’t condemn steps on both sides that take us further from peace.”

At least 1.9 million Palestinians live in the narrow territory of the Gaza Strip, which is controlled by Hamas, a U.S.-designated terrorist group, and the area severely impoverished.

Goods and services going in and out of the strip are closely monitored by Israel, which has controlled a land, sea and air blockade since 2007 to protect against the transfer of weapons to Hamas and other militant groups inside Gaza.

In 2018, the World Bank estimated unemployment in the strip at around 50 percent. Approximately 95 percent of the population is without access to clean drinking water and electricity is available between four and five hours per day. A 2012 report by the United Nations predicted Gaza would be unlivable by 2020.

Israel and Hamas are locked in cyclical patterns of violence, with Hamas and other armed groups in Gaza launching repeated rocket attacks and sending incendiary kites, balloons and other devices toward Israeli border communities that burn farm fields threaten civilians.

Israel responds with targeted air strikes on missile launching sites and on Hamas commanders.

At least 252 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed by Israeli forces responding with live fire to weekly demonstrations along the border with Gaza, according to Human Rights Watch 2019 report. At least 25,522 Palestinians in Gaza have been injured by live fire at the border.

Biden on Sunday reiterated calls for the two state solution to the Israeli and Palestinian conflict and called on both sides to reject actions that push the sides farther away from peace.

“A two state solution is the best way to ensure a secure and peaceful Israeli future for the Jewish and democratic state of Israel. That’s the goal we all share,” the presidential hopeful said.

“Palestinians need to eradicate incitement on the West Bank. Eradicate it. They need to end the rocket attacks from Gaza. Stop it,” Biden continued.

“And Israel, I think, has to stop the threats of annexation and settlement activity, like the recent announcement to build thousands of settlements in E1,” he added, referring to an undeveloped area outside Jerusalem that connects with the Israeli community of Ma’aleh Adumim.

“That’s going to choke off any hope for peace. And to be frank, those moves are taking Israel further from its democratic values, undermining support for Israel in the United States especially among young people in both political parties.”

Biden is the second presidential candidate to address the conference, with Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) providing a pre-recorded message Sunday morning. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is expected to address the conference in person on Monday. 

Tags Amy Klobuchar Joe Biden Michael Bloomberg

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