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Top US Senate Democrat backs Israel in fight against Islamic Jihad

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US correspondent based in New York

Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., speaks during a Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee hearing on the CARES Act on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2021 in Washington. (Kevin Dietsch/Pool via AP)
Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., speaks during a Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee hearing on the CARES Act on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2021 in Washington. (Kevin Dietsch/Pool via AP)

Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Bob Menendez becomes one of the first US lawmakers to express his support for Israel since the IDF’s launching of Operation Breaking Dawn against Palestinian Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip.

“Israel has every right to self-defense from Iranian-backed terrorists committed to annihilating the State of Israel, including Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). They must immediately stop their indiscriminate rocket attacks into Israel,” Menendez says.

Menendez has long been one of the most ardent Israel supporters in the Democratic party, but he’s also become gradually more critical of the Jewish state’s conduct, calling for a ceasefire early on during the May 2021 Gaza war and demanding greater US involvement in the probe into the killing of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh last May.

In his latest statement, Menendez offers his condolences “to the families of the innocent whose lives have been lost as a result of the escalation in Gaza.” The Hamas-run health ministry in the enclave has reported 15 death, and Israel claims the majority were terror operatives, but the victims also include a five-year-old girl killed in one of the first airstrikes that began the operation on Friday afternoon.

“All efforts should be made to avoid any further civilian loss inside Gaza and ensure the continued provision of humanitarian aid,” Menendez says. ” I greatly appreciate ongoing efforts by the UN and regional partners to find ways to deescalate and reduce tensions.”

“As I always have, I remain committed to ensuring Israel has the support it needs to protect civilian lives, including through full support of the Iron Dome.”

Further demonstrating his solidarity with Israel, Menendez says, “the malicious ideologies attacking Israel undermine US interests in the region and demand our constant vigilance.”

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