Former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley on Wednesday took aim at Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., for suggesting that Israel is targeting schools and civilians in its airstrikes against Hamas terrorist targets.
“You are either mistaken or intentionally lying,” Haley tweeted at the progressive congresswoman.
Ocasio-Cortez is one of a number of Democrats who have been critical of both Israel’s response to rocket attacks from Hamas and the Biden administration’s initial support of the top U.S. ally. In the tweet, Ocasio-Cortez referred to a $735 million arms sale from the U.S. to Israel this week, amid ongoing airstrikes against Hamas.
“The United States should not be rubber-stamping weapons sales to the Israeli government as they deploy our resources to target international media outlets, schools, hospitals, humanitarian missions and civilian sites for bombing,” the congresswoman tweeted. “We have a responsibility to protect human rights.”
While civilians have been killed in the airstrikes on Gaza– as well as in the rocket attacks on Israel — Israeli supporters note that Hamas frequently hides its weaponry and leadership in civilian buildings because Israel has said it is focused on targeting terrorist military infrastructure and personnel, not civilian structures. Israel was criticized for destroying an evacuated high-rise media building on Saturday, but it has pushed back by arguing that Hamas was using the building and the media company staff as shields.
“Let’s clear this up,” Haley tweeted. “1. Hamas is using civilians as human shields to hide behind while firing rockets 2. Israel takes extensive measures to minimize civilian casualties 3. The media wasn’t targeted, a terrorist organization was.”
The back-and-forth between Haley and AOC, who have clashed on a number of issues before, represents the broader debate about who is responsible for the violence in Gaza.
The Biden administration has been initially supportive of Israel, defending its right to self-defense and noting that Hamas is an international terrorist group that intentionally targets civilians.
However, amid pressure from left-wing lawmakers such as AOC and Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., Biden on Wednesday called for “a significant de-escalation today on the path to a ceasefire” from Israel, according to the White House.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, however, brushed off that call, saying he is “determined to continue” the operation against Hamas.