Democrat Gabbard, who slammed Israel for live fire use in Gaza, to run in 2020
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Democrat Gabbard, who slammed Israel for live fire use in Gaza, to run in 2020

Hawaii congresswoman and Iraq veteran also controversially met with Syria’s Assad and questioned whether he was responsible for chemical attack on civilians that killed dozens

In this Nov. 6, 2018, file photo, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, greets supporters in Honolulu (AP Photo/Marco Garcia, File)
In this Nov. 6, 2018, file photo, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, greets supporters in Honolulu (AP Photo/Marco Garcia, File)

Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, who last year castigated Israel for its use of live ammunition against “unarmed protesters” at violent demonstrations on the Gaza border orchestrated by the Hamas terrorist group, has announced that she is running for president in 2020.

Gabbard said in a CNN interview slated to air Saturday night that she will be formally announcing her candidacy within the next week. The 37-year-old Iraq War veteran is the first Hindu elected to Congress and the first member born in the US territory of American Samoa.

In May 2018, Gabbard slammed Israel for its use of live ammunition against “unarmed protesters” after a particularly deadly day of violence at the Gaza border on the day the US moved its embassy to Jerusalem, in which at least 58 Palestinians were killed and more than 2,700 Palestinians wounded, according to figures from the Hamas-run Gazan health ministry.

Hamas later that week acknowledged that most of the dead in that escalation of violence were its members, while Islamic Jihad claimed another three. Salah Bardawil said 50 of 62 Palestinians reported killed during Gaza border riots on May 14 and 15 were Hamas members. “In the last rounds of confrontations, if 62 people were martyred, 50 of the martyrs were Hamas and 12 from the people,” Bardawil said on May 16.

The IDF spokesperson’s office said that on that day, Hamas deployed 12 separate terrorist “cells” to try to breach the border at different locations, and that all were rebuffed. Among the dead, the IDF said, were all eight members of a cell of armed Hamas operatives, who were killed in a gun battle as they sought to breach the fence in the northern Gaza Strip.

Since March 2018, Palestinians have been holding the weekly “March of Return” protests on the border, which Israel has accused Gaza’s Hamas terrorist rulers of using to carry out attacks on troops and attempt to breach the security fence.

In 2015, Gabbard addressed the Christians United for Israel summit, and that same year said that while the US remained a strong ally of Israel, the two countries diverge on how best to prevent a nuclear Iran, lamenting after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed Congress that the issue was being used as a “political football.”

Christians United For Israel, founded and led by Pastor John Hagee, has millions of members and calls itself the “largest pro-Israel grassroots organization in the United States.” The organization is said to have been a major factor in US President Donald Trump’s 2017 decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the US embassy there.

At CUFI Summit, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), noting failed North Korea nuke deal, says that sanctions relief without…

Posted by Christians United for Israel (CUFI) on Tuesday, 14 July 2015

In 2016, Gabbard alarmed fellow Democrats when she met with Trump during his transition to president and later when she took a secret trip to Syria and met with President Bashar Assad, who has been accused of war crimes. She questioned whether he was responsible for a chemical attack on civilians that killed dozens and led the UN to attack a Syrian airbase.

She said she doesn’t regret the trip and considers it important to meet with adversaries if “you are serious about pursuing peace.” She also noted that the 2003 invasion of Iraq was based on faulty intelligence and said that she wanted to understand the evidence of the Syria attack.

Gabbard has long opposed a policy of regime change there, arguing that the country would descend further into chaos should Assad be ousted. Top leaders from her own Democrat party were not informed about her trip to Syria in advance, the Guardian reported.

Palestinians chant slogans during clashes with Israeli troops near the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel east of Gaza City, on May 14, 2018. (AFP Photo/Mahmud Hams)

Gabbard is joining what is expected to be a crowded Democratic field. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts has already formed an exploratory committee and is moving quickly with trips across early primary states. California Sen. Kamala Harris, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders are all weighing their own presidential bids and are expected to announce decisions in the upcoming weeks. Former Obama administration housing chief Julian Castro plans to announce his run for the presidency on Saturday.

Gabbard was one of the most prominent lawmakers to back Sanders over Hillary Clinton in the 2016 Democratic presidential primary. Her endorsement came in dramatic fashion, with her resigning as a vice chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee to express her support.

Asked last year whether she would still consider running if Sanders ran, Gabbard said Sanders is a friend and she didn’t know what his plans were.

“I’m thinking through how I can best be of service and I’ll make my decision based on that,” she said.

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