Merkley Statement on Israel and Gaza

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley, a member of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, issued the following statement today:

“The Hamas assault on Israeli towns was a horrific terrorist attack, killing and taking hostage innocent Israeli civilians. Israel has every right to pursue a targeted campaign to eliminate Hamas and prevent future attacks.

“At the same time, we all carry the responsibility to protect innocent civilians in times of war. It’s deeply concerning that the initial bombing campaign has killed thousands of innocent Palestinian civilians and that the forced evacuation and blockade of water, food, and power is creating a humanitarian catastrophe.

“As a democracy, Israel must adhere to the strictest possible standard for civilian protection under international law, even when fighting a depraved adversary like Hamas, which intentionally puts civilians in harm’s way. It is also essential that Israel quickly restore access to food and water and allow for the safe passage of humanitarian aid into Gaza.

“As we address the immediate challenges, we must also look for a future that breaks the endless cycle of conflict, that enhances the security of Israelis and Palestinians, and that safeguards the basic dignity of human life.”