Rep. Huffman’s Statement on the Worsening Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza

October 27, 2023

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Representative Jared Huffman (CA-02) released the following statement:

“On October 7th, Hamas brutally killed more than 1,300 innocent civilians and took more than 200 people hostage in an unprovoked terrorist attack on Israel.  There has been more bloodshed in the days since, including not only Israeli airstrikes and military operations in Gaza, but also violent clashes involving Palestinians, Israeli settlers and military forces in the West Bank, and ominous skirmishes between Israel and Iranian-backed Hezbollah militias in southern Lebanon.  And in Gaza, innocent Palestinians who played no part in Hamas’ terror attacks are caught in the crossfire.  The combination of border blockades, massive Israeli airstrikes, and Hamas’ cynical strategy of embedding its weapons and terrorist fighters in civilian settings, leaves hundreds of thousands of civilians in harm’s way with nowhere else to go.  With critical shortages of food, water, medicine and fuel, it is a dire humanitarian crisis that gets worse each day.

“There is nothing simple about this conflict or the humanitarian crisis, both of which have the potential to get much worse.  But my constituents deserve to know where I stand, so in addition to the extensive statements I have already made, I want to clarify my positions on these unfolding circumstances.  Starting with Hamas.  There is plenty of room for debate and nuance on other aspects of Israel-Palestinian relations, but we should have absolute moral clarity about Hamas – including what they did to ignite this conflict, and the fact that they are one of the world’s most despicable terrorist groups.  Those who would justify Hamas’ actions, equate Hamas terrorists with freedom fighters and martyrs, or consider Hamas a legitimate political authority, are terribly wrong.  

“For that reason, and because Israel was brutally attacked and remains under missile attacks, Israel obviously has the right to defend itself militarily.  But there are limits and responsibilities that go along with that right.  President Biden is correct in reminding Israel that its military response must respect international law.  Notwithstanding Hamas’ well-documented strategy of using innocent Palestinians as human shields, every effort must be made to minimize non-combatant civilian casualties and avoid any form of collective punishment.  Israel can and should punish Hamas, but not the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who have nothing to do with Hamas. 

“Moreover, our humanitarian values and concerns must apply equally on both sides of the Israel-Gaza border.  That’s why I strongly support President Biden in continuing to press Israel and other countries in the region to do more to resolve worsening conditions for nearly two million desperate Palestinian people – half of whom are children – in Gaza.  I support efforts by the Biden administration, and a growing number of other nations and NGO’s who are calling for humanitarian pauses in the fighting.  This will allow food, water, medicine and other desperately needed aid to reach civilians, and allow more space for negotiations on releasing hostages, establishing safe zones for innocent people to get out of harm’s way, and facilitating ways for US citizens and other foreign nationals to safely leave Gaza. 

“I’m grateful for President Biden’s wise counsel to Israel which has helped delay a full-scale ground invasion of Gaza.  The President is right to recall lessons from our country’s rushed and misguided response to the 9/11 terror attacks and to urge Israel that a more restrained, targeted military response is the best way to confront Hamas while ensuring Israel’s long-term security by preventing the conflict from escalating into a broader Middle East war.

“Looking ahead, when the immediate crisis in Israel and Gaza is resolved, we must not simply return the combustible, untenable status quo that predated Hamas’ October 7th terror attacks.  Waiting endlessly for Israel and the Palestinian Authority to resolve their differences and negotiate a two-state solution is not going to work, especially while some parties are actively working to undermine that outcome.  The future and safety of Israelis and Palestinians are intertwined, and I wholeheartedly believe both peoples have the right to freedom, security and their own state.  Lasting peace and security cannot be achieved through military action; it will take vigorous diplomacy and American leadership.”