Israel’s tactics in Gaza could backfire and fuel more extremism, Democratic lawmakers warn

A number of Democratic lawmakers who served in the military and in the CIA say Israel’s tactics in the Gaza Strip are endangering efforts to defeat Hamas militants and called on President Joe Biden to use “all our leverage” to secure an immediate shift in Israel’s approach.

In a letter sent Monday to Biden, the House lawmakers said they were “deeply concerned” by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s current military strategy in Gaza.

“The mounting civilian death toll and humanitarian crisis are unacceptable and not in line with American interests; nor do they advance the cause of security for our ally, Israel,” the group wrote.

“We also believe it jeopardizes efforts to destroy the terrorist organization Hamas and secure the release of all hostages,” the letter said.

The letter came amid growing tensions between the Biden administration and Israel over how Israeli forces are conducting an offensive against Hamas in Gaza and increasing frustration among Biden’s fellow Democrats in Congress. A meeting last week between members of Congress and Israel’s ambassador to the U.S. failed to reassure many Democratic lawmakers.

“From our positions on the Intelligence, Armed Services and Foreign Affairs committees, we have consistently pushed for Israel to shift its military strategy. There has been no significant change,” the letter said. 

The letter was signed by Democratic Reps. Jason Crow of Colorado, who served combat tours in Iraq as an Army paratrooper; Mikie Sherrill of New Jersey, a former Navy helicopter pilot; Chrissy Houlahan of Pennsylvania, a former U.S. Air Force officer; Seth Moulton of Massachusetts, a former Marine Corps officer who served in Iraq; Abigail Spanberger of Virginia, a former CIA officer; and Elissa Slotkin of Michigan, who worked for the CIA and as a senior Pentagon official. 

“We have dedicated our lives to national security and believe our nation’s values are a source of credibility and power,” the lawmakers wrote. “Some of us also spent years fighting America’s war on terror. We know from personal and often painful experience, that you can’t destroy a terror ideology with military force alone. And it can, in fact, make it worse.”

“Accordingly, we urge you to continue to use all our leverage to achieve an immediate and significant shift of military strategy and tactics in Gaza,” the letter said.

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