One critic called the South Carolina Republican's comment nothing short of "incitement to genocide."
Human rights defenders on Wednesday accused U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham of "incitement to genocide" after the South Carolina Republican urged Israeli forces to destroy Gaza—and he wasn't the only prominent GOP figure to make such an incendiary call.
Appearing on Fox News on Tuesday night, Graham asserted that "we are in a religious war here, I am with Israel. Whatever the hell you have to do to defend yourselves; level the place."
In a social media post, U.S. political analyst, author, and activist Josh Ruebner tagged the International Criminal Court with the caption, "ATTN... Incitement to genocide."
Critics noted that as Graham was calling for the destruction of Gaza, Israeli forces were actually doing just that. A surprise infiltration attack by Gaza-based militants killed more than 1,200 Israelis since the weekend, and Israel has responded by launching a massive assault on the already-besieged Gaza Strip—home to around 2.3 million Palestinians, nearly half of them children—by air, land, and sea.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to exact a "mighty vengeance," while members of his far-right government made even more inflammatory statements, including Knesset lawmaker Ariel Kallner's call for a "Nakba that will overshadow the Nakba of '48. Kallner was referring to the ethnic cleansing of over 750,000 Arabs from Palestine during the founding of the modern state of Israel in 1947-48.
"This war is not only against Hamas," Israeli Foreign Minister Emmanuel Nahshon said on Wednesday, vowing the "complete and unequivocal defeat of the enemy, at any cost."
At least 1,100 Palestinians—including at least 326 children—have been killed in Israeli attacks, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. As was the case in previous Israeli assaults on Gaza, entire families have been wiped out.
The emphasis, Israeli Defense Forces spokesperson Daniel Hagari explained Tuesday, "is on damage and not on accuracy."
Additionally, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on Monday announced a "complete siege" of Gaza, which was followed by an intensification of a 16-year blockade of the densely populated strip. Israel is blocking food and fuel from entering Gaza and has cut off its electricity—actions that experts say amount to war crimes.
In stark contrast with the intense American corporate media coverage of the Hamas massacres in southern Israel, there has been little mention in the mainstream media of the Palestinian death toll in the U.S.-backed war.
Meanwhile, other prominent Republicans have taken to corporate and social media to make similar calls to Graham's.
Appearing on Fox News over the weekend, 2024 GOP presidential candidate and former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley implored Netanayahu to "finish" the Palestinians, a remark Palestinian author and journalist Ramzy Baroud described as "an outright call for genocide."
On Monday, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) wrote on social media that "Israel must respond DISPROPORTIONATELY to this and any future attacks." Disproportionate attacks are war crimes under the Fourth Geneva Convention.
Responding to Israel's brutal assault, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said Wednesday: "Let us not forget that half of the 2 million people in Gaza are children. Children and innocent people do not deserve to be punished for the acts of Hamas."
"The targeting of civilians is a war crime," Sanders added, "no matter who does it."
The U.S.-based group Jewish Voice for Peace on Wednesday blasted "U.S. government officials [who] are spreading racist, hateful, and incendiary rhetoric that will fuel mass atrocities and genocide."
"We call on all people of conscience to stop the imminent genocide of Palestinians," the group added. " We demand our government work towards de-escalation, that it immediately stop sending weapons to the Israeli military. A future of peace and safety for all, grounded in justice, freedom, and equality for all, is still the only option."