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Conservatives, pro-Israel groups express opposition to Biden admin’s Palestine aid

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The United States plans to restore over $200 million in aid to Palestinians, after large funding cuts made under the Trump administration.

“[We] plan to restart U.S. economic, development, and humanitarian assistance for the Palestinian people,” said Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a statement on Wednesday.

Included in that aid is $75 million in economic and development assistance for the West Bank and Gaza and $150 million for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), a U.N. agency that supports over five million Palestinian refugees throughout the region.

While the move garnered support from various Western allies of the U.S. and pro-Palestine advocates, Israel along with many conservative and pro-Israel groups and individuals have expressed staunch opposition to the decision.

“We believe that this UN agency for so-called refugees should not exist in its current format,” said Gilad Erdan, Israel’s ambassador to the U.N.

“I am deeply troubled by recent decisions from the Biden Administration to turn a blind eye to behavior by the Palestinian Authority,” Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.) said in a statement.

The senator also criticized the move to give money to UNRWA, which he said “does little more than subsidize a corrupt regime and a status quo in the West Bank and in Jordan” when it comes to the Palestinians and that it “has been historically antagonistic to Israel and an impediment to peace.”

“Mr. Secretary, I support aid to Palestinians but your decision to give $150 million to UNRWA without any conditions is a mistake,” international human rights activist and lawyer Hillel Neuer tweeted in response to Blinken. “Even the Swiss foreign minister said: ‘UNRWA has become part of the problem. By supporting UNRWA, we keep the conflict alive. It’s a perverse logic.'”

“I’m sure Hamas and the PA dictators are also only more than ‘pleased’,” tweeted Arsen Ostrovsky, another lawyer and political analyst who deals with international human rights.

“How will you and @POTUS ensure this money will not be spent to reward the murders of Jews with lifelong salaries?” StopAntisemitism.org tweeted.

“How will you ensure that the money goes to humanitarian assistance & not terrorism and incitement? What protocols do you have in place for this especially knowing the money has been misused for decades? What will you do to reduce the number of refugees instead of adding to it?” tweeted Shoshanna Keats Jaskoll, an activist who has written for various Israeli outlets such as The Jerusalem Post and The Times of Israel.

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @DouglasPBraff.

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IDF detains ‘dozens of terror suspects’ after raid on Gaza hospital, finds meds with hostages names on them

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The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) raided Nasser Hospital, the main hospital in southern Gaza on Thursday due to “credible intelligence” that hostages were likely held there, and the bodies of some captives may still be in the complex.

The Times of Israel reported on the situation: IDF Spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari announced that from the raid troops were able to detain dozens of terror suspects. He said among those detained at the hospital were a Hamas ambulance driver who participated in the October 7 onslaught, another suspect who admitted to having taken part in the attacks, and a PFLP operative. The IDF also said it uncovered medications with the names of hostages on them.

During an evening press conference, Hagari said troops also found weapons, including explosives and mortars, within the premises of Nasser Hospital. Last month, a rocket was fired from the hospital at troops in Gaza. Hagari said that according to the IDF’s intelligence assessments, over 85 percent of “major medical facilities” in Gaza have been used by Hamas for terror activity.

The IDF said Hamas maintained a command room, an intelligence and interrogation complex, and a police station at Nasser Hospital. The IDF also released footage from the interrogation of a captured Hamas operative, who said that at least 10 hostages were held at Nasser Hospital.

“We conduct precise rescue operations — as we have in the past — where our intelligence indicates that the bodies of hostages may be held,” Hagari said in his earlier statement.

He said the IDF has “credible intelligence from a number of sources, including from released hostages, indicating that Hamas held hostages at Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis and that there may be bodies of our hostages in the Nasser Hospital facility.”

“As was proven with the Shifa Hospital, Rantisi Hospital, Al Amal Hospital, and many other hospitals across Gaza, Hamas systematically uses hospitals as terror hubs,” Hagari said.

“Because Hamas terrorists are likely hiding behind injured civilians inside Nasser Hospital right now and appear to have used the hospital to hide our hostages there too, the IDF is conducting a precise and limited operation inside Nasser Hospital,” he said.

“This sensitive operation was prepared with precision and is being conducted by IDF special forces who underwent specified training,” Hagari noted.

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