Rep. Joaquin Castro

Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) speaks at a press conference on Capitol Hill on November 18, 2021 in Washington, D.C.

(Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

House Democrat Says No More US Aid for Netanyahu's Assault on Gaza

"The actions of the Israeli military under Benjamin Netanyahu leave me no choice but to oppose providing these weapons that are being used to kill so many innocent civilians in Gaza," said Rep. Joaquin Castro.

U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro said Wednesday that he opposes sending Israel any additional American weaponry and called for a permanent cease-fire in the Gaza Strip as the territory's humanitarian catastrophe worsens by the hour, with 40% of the population at risk of famine and nearly 2 million displaced people struggling to survive incessant airstrikes.

"I cannot support sending Israel more weapons as long as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu remains in power and I urge the Biden administration, Israeli government, Hamas, and other countries to establish a permanent cease-fire and return of Israeli hostages still in Hamas' captivity," Castro (D-Texas) wrote in a series of social media posts as the Netanyahu government expanded its war on Gaza.

"As a United States congressman," he added, "I cannot support this carnage."

Since October 7, the U.S. has provided more than 10,000 tons of weaponry to Israel—potentially including arms from a secretive U.S. stockpile inside Israel. The Israeli military has used U.S. munitions to commit atrocities across the densely populated Gaza Strip.

Castro wrote Wednesday that prior to the latest assault on Gaza, he has "always supported assistance to Israel," even though Israeli forces have used American weaponry in civilian areas during past bombardments of the Palestinian enclave.

The bombing campaign that began following a deadly Hamas-led attack on October 7 has been one of the most devastating of any war in recent history, and Castro wrote that "the actions of the Israeli military under Benjamin Netanyahu leave me no choice but to oppose providing these weapons that are being used to kill so many innocent civilians in Gaza."

"I first called for a cease-fire on October 17. The need for one is even more dire today," he added. "I'm more convinced today that Israel is not complying with international humanitarian law."

Biden administration officials have repeatedly said they're not conducting real-time assessments of whether the Israeli military is adhering to international law during its aerial and ground assault on the Gaza Strip, which has displaced more than 90% of the enclave's population and destroyed much of its civilian infrastructure, including homes and medical facilities.

A White House policy memo issued in February states that "no arms transfer will be authorized where the United States assesses that it is more likely than not that the arms to be transferred will be used by the recipient to commit, facilitate the recipients' commission of, or to aggravate risks that the recipient will commit: genocide; crimes against humanity; grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions of 1949, including attacks intentionally directed against civilian objects or civilians protected as such; or other serious violations of international humanitarian or human rights law."

Humanitarian groups and legal experts have warned that the Biden administration risks rendering itself complicit in genocide if it continues its unconditional diplomatic and military support for Israeli forces, which have also been accused of torturing and executing Gaza civilians.

Casto is among a small group of U.S. members of Congress demanding that the Biden administration halt its arms shipments to Israel and pursue a permanent cease-fire.

According to a recent tally by The Intercept's Prem Thakker, just around 12% of Congress has backed a cease-fire even as opinion surveys show that a strong majority of U.S. voters want the Biden administration to push for a permanent cease-fire. Earlier this month, the U.S. vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution calling for an immediate humanitarian cease-fire in Gaza.

Castro wrote Wednesday that the U.S. has become "a rubber stamp for a right-wing leader who rejected a two-state solution, propped up Hamas, undermined the Palestinian Authority, and likely committed crimes that may land him in jail."

"We must assertively reclaim our role as peace broker by publicly working to bring about a permanent cease-fire, the release of hostages by Hamas, delivery of significant humanitarian assistance to Gaza, and, ultimately, a lasting peace," Castro added.

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