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#Senate Democrat warns an Israeli ground invasion would ‘exacerbate’ conditions in Gaza

Sen. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) said in a statement Monday that he has “grave concerns” about a potential ground invasion by the Israelis in Gaza as violence continues to grasp the region.

“There is no doubt that an imminent ground invasion would be catastrophic for innocent Palestinians in Gaza and jeopardize urgent efforts to save hostages,” he said in a statement. “Israel has the absolute right to attack Hamas for the brutal, heinous slaughter of more than 1,400 Israelis and the taking of more than 200 hostages.”

“But, Israel also has a responsibility to protect Palestinian civilians living in Gaza, including one million children. Already, more than 5,000 Palestinians have died,” he continued.

Israel launched a series of retaliatory attacks on the Gaza Strip to target the militant group Hamas, which infiltrated Israel in an unprecedented move on Oct. 7 that included slaughtering civilians and taking people into Gaza as hostages. More than 1,400 Israelis have died so far in the conflict, mostly during that initial attack.

Now, Israel has signaled that it would proceed with a ground invasion into Gaza. Israel Defense Minister Yoav Gallant told troops to prepare to see Gaza “from the inside” Thursday, but there has been no definitive timetable.

Hamas militants took more than 200 people as hostage during its initial raid on Israel, including many believed to be civilians. At least four hostages have been released so far as officials continue to negotiate with the militant group. The U.S. has designated Hamas as a terrorist organization.

There have also been a number of reported civilian deaths in Gaza. More than 5,000 Palestinians have died so far in the conflict in Gaza, including an estimated 2,055 children and 1,119 women, with more than 15,000 injured, the Gaza Health Ministry reported Monday.

Many officials, lawmakers and humanitarian aid groups have also expressed concerns about the conditions in Gaza after Israel cut off supply of water and fuel to the area in the wake of the attacks.

Welch suggested that a ground invasion would worsen the conditions.

“The humanitarian conditions in Gaza are terrible and getting worse every day. One million Palestinians, including women and children, have been displaced. Most are living in the open—without food, without shelter, fuel, water, or access to medicine. United Nations relief efforts have begun but are unable to meet the extreme needs of the moment,” he said.

“A ground invasion would further exacerbate the dire conditions in Gaza,” he added. 

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