update deskIsrael at War

Sen. Van Hollen accuses Israel of ‘textbook war crime’ in Gaza

"President Biden must take action in response to what is happening," said the U.S. lawmaker.

Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.). Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.). Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) on Monday accused Israel of committing war crimes during its ongoing offensive against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

“Kids in Gaza are now dying from the deliberate withholding of food. In addition to the horror of that news, one other thing is true: That is a war crime. It is a textbook war crime. And that makes those who orchestrate it war criminals,” said Van Hollen.

“So now the question is what will the United States do? What will we do? What will President [Joe] Biden do? President Biden must take action in response to what is happening,” he added.

On Thursday, Biden described Israel’s military response to Hamas’s Oct. 7 massacre as “over the top,” adding that he was seeking a “sustained pause” in the war.

“I’m of the view, as you know, that the conduct of the response in Gaza, in the Gaza Strip, has been over the top,” Biden told reporters at the White House.

“I’ve been pushing really hard, really hard, to get humanitarian assistance into Gaza. There are a lot of innocent people who are starving, a lot of innocent people who are in trouble and dying, and it’s gotta stop,” he said.

The comments come as the Democratic president is under intensifying domestic pressure to compel Jerusalem to end the fighting ahead of the November election in the United States.

Last week, a top Biden adviser informed enraged Arab community leaders in Michigan, including Hamas and Hezbollah supporters, that the administration agrees it has made “missteps” in its support for Israel.

On Sunday, The Washington Post reported that disagreements over the war are driving Biden towards a “breach” with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whom he believes can no longer be “influenced even in private.”

Quoting “19 senior administration officials and outside advisers,” the newspaper said that Biden’s mounting frustration with Netanyahu has led some White House aides to suggest that the president ramp up public criticism of the IDF operation in Gaza. 

Politico claimed last week that Biden is “deeply suspicious” of Israel’s leader and had said privately that Netanyahu was a “bad f–ing guy.”

While the White House subsequently denied the report, the Wall Street Journal said on Feb. 1 that Biden is frustrated over the number of casualties in Gaza, the displacement of civilians from their homes “and the lack of a road map for ending the fighting.”

Separately from the Post article, a senior Biden administration official told NBC News on Sunday that “there is a growing divide between the U.S. and Israel,” specifically over the looming IDF offensive in Rafah.

Meanwhile, Biden on Thursday issued a memorandum requiring allies who receive U.S. military aid to provide “credible and reliable written assurances” of their adherence to international law.

Under the new guidelines, the State Department and the Department of Defense will be required to issue periodic reports on whether American allies are meeting the requirements.

The memo does not mention specific countries but comes amid increasing calls in the U.S. to condition aid to Israel due to its offensive to eliminate Hamas.

The Biden administration is also reportedly bucking decades of U.S. foreign policy by considering a plan to unilaterally recognize a Palestinian state, despite deep opposition to the move within Israel.

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