Ocasio-Cortez defends accusing Israel of genocide: ‘I believe we have crossed the threshold of intent’

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) on Sunday defended her claim that Israel is committing genocide in Gaza, arguing the humanitarian situation in the enclave has “crossed the threshold of intent.”

Asked by CNN anchor Jake Tapper about her labeling of Israel’s wartime actions as “genocide,” Ocasio-Cortez said, “The word is extremely serious. It’s one that’s taken with extraordinary gravity. And, to me, the threshold of intent is a high one, it is a serious one, and it is not one that is made lightly.”

“However, when we look at the precipice of what is happening, with a forced famine of 1.1 million Gazans — where multiple governments, [nongovernmental organizations], and even officials within the United States State Department have stated themselves plainly that the Israeli government and leaders in the Israeli government are intentionally denying, blocking and slow-walking this aid and are precipitating a mass famine — I believe we have crossed the threshold of intent,” she said.

The comments come days after her House floor speech Friday, when she called on the Biden administration to halt military aid to Israel and described the nation’s bombardment of Gaza as an “unfolding genocide.”

“If you want to know what an unfolding genocide looks like, open your eyes,” Ocasio-Cortez said on the House floor. “It looks like the forced famine of 1.1 million innocents. It looks like thousands of children eating grass as their bodies consume themselves, while trucks of food are slowed and halted just miles away.”

She doubled down on these comments Sunday, telling Tapper, “I think it is extremely clear and it is extremely important that all people understand the difference between people and their governments, Israelis and the Israeli government, Palestinians from Hamas.”

“But what we are seeing here, I think, with a forced famine, is beyond our ability to deny or explain away. There is no targeting of Hamas in precipitating a mass famine of a million people, half of whom are children,” she continued.

The World Food Programme last week warned famine is “imminent” in the northern part of the Gaza Strip as the territory’s population experiences crisis levels of food availability. The agency said about 300 aid trucks are needed in Gaza to address the issues, but only nine convoys were permitted to enter since the start of the year.

Tapper said he was told by Israeli officials they are permitting hundreds of aid trucks into Gaza every day and argued the war could end tomorrow if the Palestinian militant group Hamas freed the hostages and laid down arms.

Asked if she agrees, Ocasio-Cortez said, “I do disagree, because when we are talking about famine, the actions of Hamas should not be tied to whether a 3-year-old can eat. The actions of Hamas do not justify forcing thousands, hundreds of thousands of people, to eat grass as their bodies consume themselves.”

Progressives and Democrats have increasingly expressed concern about the civilian causalities and reports of starvation and malnutrition in Gaza. More than 30,000 Palestinians have died in the violence since Oct. 7, when Hamas launched a series of surprise attacks in southern Israel that left about 1,200 people dead and saw the kidnappings of 240 others.

The U.S. began delivering humanitarian aid into Gaza via cargo planes earlier this month, and President Biden vowed to “do more” to help the civilians caught in the violence.

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