May 09, 2024

Statement from Congressman Castro on President Biden’s Efforts to Prevent Israeli Ground Invasion of Rafah

SAN ANTONIO — Today, Congressman Joaquin Castro (TX-20), a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, released the following statement commending President Biden’s commitment to halt U.S. offensive weapons shipments to Israel if Israel invades Rafah, a city in Southern Gaza where approximately 1.5 million Palestinians are currently sheltering:

“For months, Palestinian families have fled to Rafah to escape death and destruction in Northern Gaza. A ground invasion of Rafah would compound the human suffering on the ground and put hundreds of thousands of innocent lives at risk,” said Congressman Castro. “Together with many of my colleagues, I have urged the Biden administration to prevent U.S. weapons from being used to further the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. I appreciated the President’s recent warning that the U.S. will halt offensive weapons transfers to Israel if the Rafah invasion moves forward, and I commend him for listening to Americans who want this war to end. Alongside our partners and allies, the United States must now help negotiate a ceasefire that protects innocent Palestinians, allows the flow of humanitarian aid into Gaza, and ensures the release of the remaining Israeli and American hostages held by Hamas.”

In late April, Congressman Castro led nearly 20 members of Congress in a joint statement to warn that the recently-passed Israel Security Supplemental Appropriations Act (H.R. 8034) could facilitate the deaths of more civilians in Rafah and elsewhere in Gaza. Earlier that month, he and Congresswoman Veronica Escobar (TX-16) led 24 of their colleagues in a letter to U.S Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, and Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines expressing concerns over the methodology used in National Security Memorandum 20 (NSM 20) to ensure that Israel is using U.S. security assistance in compliance with U.S. and international law.

In March, Congressman Castro led a group of House Democrats with experience in foreign policy and human rights in a letter urging the Biden administration to stress to the Israeli government that continued efforts to limit the flow of humanitarian aid to Gaza would require the U.S. to enforce Section 620I of the Foreign Assistance Act and restrict additional U.S. security assistance to Israel. Earlier that month, he joined Congressman Jamie Raskin (MD-08) and Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (IL-09) in leading a letter with nearly three dozen other House Democrats backing warnings from Biden administration officials about the humanitarian risk of an Israeli military ground invasion of Rafah.

Congressman Castro first called for a ceasefire on October 17, 2023, in response to the rising civilian death toll in both Israel and Gaza.