Nearly two weeks into the Israel-Hamas conflict, Sen. Tommy Tuberville announced Thursday he supports a bill to redirect $100 million in U.S. aid intended for Palestinian civilians to instead go toward Israeli defense efforts.
“This week, I signed onto legislation that would redirect American aid to the Palestinians and use it to strengthen Israel’s Iron Dome,” Tuberville told reporters Thursday.
“(President) Joe Biden says he wants to cut the Palestinians a check for $100 million; I am absolutely opposed to this. Humanitarian aid that goes to Gaza will ultimately wind up in the hands of Hamas, the terrorists.”
The ongoing conflict began on Oct. 7 after Hamas terrorists launched a surprise attack on Israeli that left hundreds dead, firing at least 3,000 rockets and deploying around 1,000 militants. As of Thursday, at least 1,400 Israelis have been killed, and 4,562 injured, according to Israeli officials.
Israel’s response has been forceful, and has included a number of airstrikes on Gaza that have left at least 3,785 Palestinians dead, and 12,493 injured, according to Palestinian officials. However, the ongoing conflict has been fraught with disinformation, making exact death tolls difficult to independently verify.
The Palestinian death toll has led many in the international community to call for humanitarian aid to be delivered to Gaza.
While the U.S. vetoed a United Nations resolution calling for a pause to Israeli strikes on Gaza to allow for the establishment of humanitarian corridors in the Gaza Strip, Biden announced on Wednesday his intent to deliver $100 million in humanitarian aid to Palestinian civilians.
If Tuberville is successful in his efforts, that $100 million would instead be directed toward funding Israel’s Iron Dome, a missile defense system that intercepts rockets and artillery shells that the U.S. has funded to the tune of $2.6 billion since 2011.
“We need to make sure American tax dollars aren’t being funneled to terrorists,” Tuberville continued. “Money is fluid; I pay your rent, then I free up money in your budget for other things. So-called humanitarian aid frees up money for other (causes), including terrorism and war.”
Tuberville also announced his support for a separate bill that would cut funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, an agency of the United Nations that has provided humanitarian aid to Palestinians since 1949. While the agency has received praise from several world leaders for its humanitarian efforts, including from Israel in 2007, it’s also been the subject of criticism for alleged ties with Hamas.
“This week, I’ve also joined legislation to restrict tax dollars to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, better known as UNRWA,” Tuberville said.
“The UNRWA has a history of anti-semitism and support for Hamas. President Trump defunded UNRWA completely, then Joe Biden came in and cut them a check immediately for $682 million, no strings attached. Our legislation would ensure that no money will go toward anyone with a connection to terrorism.”
Calling the Israeli-Hamas conflict “the most urgent matter facing the Senate,” Tuberville vowed to continue to support Israel amid the ongoing conflict.