Weekend Review: Rebuilding Begins in Gaza as Cease-Fire Holds
A cease-fire between Israel and Hamas has held for days, bringing nearly two weeks of fighting to a stop. More than 240 Palestinians and 12 Israelis were killed in airstrikes and clashes during that time.
Israel claimed that all of their targets were known hideouts for Hamas terrorists. However, the United Nations reported that at least 129 of the 240 Palestinians killed were civilians. Israeli forces reportedly killed 62 children and three people with disabilities. Meanwhile, of the 12 Israeli deaths, two were children.
The UN reports that Israel destroyed roughly 250 buildings that held more than 1,000 housing and commercial units. Airstrikes have disrupted the education of almost 600,000 children, and 53 schools have been damaged or destroyed. All of Gaza’s schools remain closed, but some will re-open this week.
Currently, approximately 800,000 people in Gaza are without clean water due to electricity shortages, shutting down the desalination plant. According to the UN, initial estimates by the Ministry of Agriculture show damage to the agriculture, livestock, and fishery sector in Gaza at around $32 million.
On Thursday, Israeli forces raided Al Makkased Hospital, a teaching school in East Jerusalem, for the third time in ten days. They reportedly fired a sound-bomb, harassed medical staff, and damaged hospital property.
Biden Maintains Unwavering Support for Israel
Biden has maintained Israel’s right to defense and has stressed support for the county. He held a press conference on Friday to refute claims from the Republican party that Democrats are “anti-Israel.” The president strongly sided with Israel despite calling for a cease-fire.
“Until the region says unequivocally they acknowledge the right of Israel to exist as an independent Jewish state, there will be no peace,” he said. The statement is a disappointment to those hoping the president would demand an irrevocable cease-fire from both sides.
The president jokingly threatened to run over a reporter while test-driving a new Ford truck after the reporter asked for a comment on Israel. Biden responded, “not unless you get in front of the car as I step on it,” before clarifying that he was only “teasing” and driving away.
On Thursday, President Biden announced that the US would work with the Palestinian Authority instead of Hamas, which allegedly governs Gaza. “We will do this in full partnership with the Palestinian Authority, not Hamas, the Authority, in a manner that does not permit Hamas to simply restock its military arsenal,” Biden said.
Republicans Want to Expedite Massive Weapons Sale to Israel, Prominent Democrats Oppose
Earlier this month, the Biden administration proposed the sale of $735 million in weapons to Israel. Though some lawmakers have denounced the sale in light of recent violence, the sale is anticipated to be approved by Congress.
Now, Republicans on foreign policy committees are urging Biden to rush the sale. They wrote in a letter that they encouraged the president to “resist calls to delay the sale of important munitions, and expedite the processing and delivery of those munitions as much as possible.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders is expected to introduce a bill to block the sale. He is one of many Democrats who are worried that the sale will bring the cease-fire to an end.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and others filed a similar resolution in the House.
Conservative Lawmakers Pass Bill to Kill 90% of the Wolves in Idaho
GOP Rep. Dorothy Moon of Idaho believes that when wolves are seen “walking down the center of a dirt road,” it means the state needs to eliminate 90% of the population.
Federal wildlife officials brought wolves back to Idaho 25 years ago, and the animal was removed from the endangered species list in 2011. Moon and other lawmakers cite concerns about the population of elk, which is reportedly near an all-time high across the state but declining in some areas.
Studies show wolves and other predators are healthy for ecosystems. The action is most likely an appeal to ranchers and hunters, who have lost game and livestock to the predators.
The law will allow wolf hunters to use previously illegal measures, such as chasing wolves on ATVs until they are too tired to escape and using night vision goggles for hunting them in the dark. It also increases funding to private exterminators who hunt wolves from helicopters.
The new law proposes the deaths of more than 1,300 wolves in Idaho.