3rd Thursday Action Alert: Urge Congress to prevent genocide by rejecting military aid to Israel and supporting UNRWA
On Feb. 7, Israel rejected a cease fire proposal with Hamas that had been negotiated by the United States, Egypt, and Qatar. In doing so, Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu called the proposal “delusional,” and called for the dismantlement of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which provides essential services for millions of Palestinians throughout the Middle East, including in Gaza. PM Netanyahu also said that the war would continue until “Israel is completely victorious.”
Since the escalation in violence on October 7 and the continuing Israeli assault on Gaza, more than 28,000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza and almost 70,000 have been injured, with thousands still unaccounted for, according to the UN. To uphold the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, South Africa argued in the International Court of Justice in January that Israel that measures must be taken to save lives. On Jan. 26, the ICJ ordered that the Israeli government must take measures to prevent genocide and that the provision of humanitarian aid and basic services is required, among other things.
The US is a signatory of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, yet has enabled Israel’s continuing punishment of the Palestinians of Gaza diplomatically and through the provision of military aid including armaments. President Biden has bypassed Congress more than once to fast-track materiel to Israel. Despite President Biden’s executive order in early February conditioning aid on human rights standards, the White House has said that suspension of aid is unlikely. Congress is currently considering a massive disbursement of new assistance to Israel of $14 billion, adding to Israel’s arsenal, and seeming to ignore the massive loss of life and destruction of communities in Gaza as well as the Israeli, American, and international community’s obligations affirmed by the ICJ.
At the same time, the US announced in late January that it was suspending its funding of UNRWA, along with fifteen other countries, due to allegations that 12 UNRWA staff participated in the Oct. 7 attacks on Israelis, despite scant evidence. The UN has fired several staffers over these allegations. UNRWA was established to provide essential health, educational, and response services, as well as jobs in those areas, for Palestinian refugees, and has been operating continually since 1949. It currently employs over 30,000 Palestinians, and is the only way to access healthcare, hospital services, medical clinics, and schools for many of the 5.9 million registered Palestinian refugees.
In ratcheting up its already massive military funding for Israel while cutting off support for UNRWA, the US is only further implicated in acting contrary to its obligation to prevent the crime of genocide. As the US provides further military assistance and aid to Israel and denies necessary humanitarian and relief assistance through the longest-serving and most expansively capable agency positioned to provide it, the US continues to contribute directly to the Israel’s ethnic cleansing of Gaza.
Urge your Congressional representative and US Senators to uphold the US obligation to prevent genocide in Gaza by rejecting further military aid and assistance to Israel and by supporting continued financial contributions to UNRWA.