‘Do More’: Senators Urge Joe Biden To Surge Medical Supplies For Gaza

The five Democrats demanded airlifts to hospitals, Navy hospital ships and Israeli guarantees to stop attacking medics, in a letter shared exclusively with HuffPost.


Five Democratic senators doubled down on demands for President Joe Biden to more aggressively address “the medical crisis” in Gaza, by deploying added U.S. support and pushing Israel to halt its assaults on medical workers and facilities, in a letter sent to Biden on Wednesday and shared exclusively with HuffPost.

“The U.S. has the resources to provide significantly more aid and prevent further suffering of the two million Palestinians displaced in Gaza,” read the letter, signed by Sens. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), Chris Van Hollen (Md.), Jeff Merkley (Ore.), Peter Welch (Vt.) and Dick Durbin (Ill.) “Israel has the right to pursue Hamas terrorists who carried out the horrific attacks on October 7th, but it must comply with international law. The combination of Israeli restrictions on access to humanitarian aid and the harm caused by relentless bombing and shelling has devastated Gaza’s healthcare capacities at a time when the need for urgent care is soaring.”

The message notes that Israel’s U.S.-backed offensive in Gaza has included raids on hospitals and strikes on medical facilities run by American allies like Jordan. “We appreciate your efforts to address the humanitarian catastrophe in the Gaza Strip, but the United States can and must do more,” the letter tells Biden.

The senators want the Biden administration to launch airlifts to the handful of hospitals still functioning in Gaza and to expand its support for field hospitals in the Palestinian enclave beyond the one such facility the U.S. is currently funding, like other nations. Additionally, they seek “absolute assurances” that Israel will cease attacks on medical facilities and a U.S. Navy deployment of hospital ships to Gaza, echoing a step taken by Italy.

The new pressure from Congress comes amid rapidly growing alarm about conditions in Gaza both within the Biden administration and in public discourse. On Tuesday, HuffPost revealed that officials at the U.S. Agency for International Development privately warned other government personnel that famine is already underway in the strip, as dozens of young children die daily and starvation-related deaths accelerate. And on Monday, Israeli airstrikes killed seven workers with the charity World Central Kitchen, prompting criticism from Biden, calls for him to get tougher on Israel from a broad range of outside observers of the conflict and announcements from other humanitarian groups that they would have to pause operations in Gaza.

“With woefully inadequate aid getting in and the medical facilities and personnel that do exist under attack, a sea change is desperately needed,” the Wednesday letter from the senators reads. It asks the Biden administration to respond by April 17 to a range of questions on subjects like the U.S. capacity to send more medical supplies to Gaza and help ill and wounded Palestinians leave for Egypt.

Nearly two months ago, the same group of senators published a Washington Post op-ed urging Biden to take similar steps and also bolster American food, water and shelter support for Palestinians in Gaza, the vast majority of whom have been pushed out of their homes amid the Israeli operation.

The administration has yet to take the actions outlined in the senators’ proposed “Operation Gaza Relief.” Since then, they note, “the crisis on the ground has only worsened.”

Democratic lawmakers and human rights groups are increasingly arguing Biden’s Israel policy is ill-advised and may even be illegal.