Middle East Eye / October 8, 2023
Biden official says Republicans are ‘completely false’, accuses them of ‘total lies’.
Republican lawmakers in US Congress, as well as leading presidential candidates, have piled on the Biden administration saying that Gaza’s military operation against Israel is tied to the Iran-US prisoner swap that granted Tehran access to $6bn in Iranian oil revenue.
Former President Donald Trump said that the hostage deal was a major reason for the attacks.
“The war happened for two reasons,” he said. “The United States is giving — and gave to Iran — $6 billion over hostages.”
Trump, the front-runner for the Republican presidential primary, wasn’t alone in his attacks on Biden.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who is also running in the Republican primary, said the Biden administration’s foreign policy decisions were to blame for the Palestinian attack on Israel.
“Iran has helped fund this war against Israel, and Joe Biden’s policies that have gone easy on Iran has helped to fill their coffers,” he said. “Israel is now paying the price for those policies.”
Republican Congressman Dan Bishop said “Biden just gave Hamas sponsor Iran $6 billion”.
“Today, innocent Israeli citizens have paid with their lives for his and the Obama holdovers’ venal incompetence,” he said.
In August, the Biden administration agreed, in exchange for the release of five Americans held in Iran, to waive sanctions on the transfer of $6bn in frozen Iranian funds from South Korea to Qatar.
The administration stressed that the money could be used only for humanitarian purposes including food, medicine, and medical equipment.
In response to the statements from Republicans, a senior Biden administration official said they were “total lies” and said the Republicans either have a “complete misunderstanding” of the situation or are willingly participating in the “disinformation of facts”.
“I cannot think of a more irresponsible claim to make in such a situation about the hostage deal, and it’s also completely false,” the official said.
“The agreement to secure the freedom of five US citizens from Iran in September obviously had nothing whatsoever to do with today,” the official added, referring to Gaza’s launching of an attack on Israel.
The official added that “none of the funds that were part of that deal have even been spent, not a single cent, or accessed by Iran.”
On Saturday morning, scores of Palestinian fighters crossed from the besieged Gaza Strip into Israel by land, sea, and air, seizing control of towns with shocking ease.
As thousands of rockets rained down on Israel, Hamas announced its operation, calling on all Palestinian factions and their allies to rise up.
So far, nearly 300 Israelis have been killed and 1,600 wounded while at least 232 Palestinians have been killed and nearly 1,700 wounded.
Gaza has been under an Israeli blockade for nearly two decades, systematically excluding Palestinians from services, hospitals, banks and other vital services, leaving the population to exist in fraught living conditions.
The blockade has also resulted in a perennial shortage of clean water, electricity, and medical supplies in what is often dubbed the world’s largest open-air prison.
This year has also shaped up to be one of the bloodiest in the occupied West Bank. According to a tally by Middle East Eye, at least 222 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces this year, including 38 children.