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'Why aren't they taking Palestinians?': Nikki Haley's jibe towards Arab countries amid Israel-Hamas war

The Indian-American presidential candidate alleged that Arab countries did not know who to trust, but will eventually America for not doing more for Palestinians. Haley also accused Hamas of using hostages as 'human shields' and called for greater support for Israel.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Washington Published on: October 16, 2023 17:31 IST
Indian-American presidential candidate Nikki Haley
Image Source : AP Indian-American presidential candidate Nikki Haley

Indian-American presidential aspirant Nikki Haley has slammed Arab countries for not opening their countries to facilitate the safety of citizens fleeing from the Gaza Strip ahead of a possible ground invasion from Israel expected to have devastating humanitarian consequences.

"We should care about the Palestinian citizens... But where are the Arab countries? Where are they? Where is Qatar? Where is Lebanon? Where is Jordan? Where is Egypt? Do you know we give Egypt over a billion dollars a year? Why aren't they opening the gates? Why aren't they taking the Palestinians?" said Haley in an interview with CNN.

Haley, the former governor of South Carolina, said that Arab countries do not know who to trust among Palestinians and further slammed former US President Barack Obama and incumbent Joe Biden for overseeing the Iranian nuclear deal, accusing Tehran of strengthening groups like Hamas and Hezbollah.

She also said that Islamic countries are likely to blame America for the fallout. "They're going to come and blame America. They're going to come and blame Israel. And don't fall for it, because they have the ability to fix all of this if they wanted to. They have the ability to go in and tell Hamas right now to stop what they're doing. They have the ability to tell Hamas to let those people out," she added.

The Republican presidential candidate also accused Hamas of using hostages as human shields and blaming Israel for the deaths of children in the ongoing war. She also said that what Hamas did was "beyond thuggish, brutal and sick".

"You (Obama and Biden) empowered Iran to go and strengthen Hamas, strengthen Hezbollah, strengthen the Houthis to spread their terrorist activity. We went and strengthened those sanctions and decimated Iran's economy. And what happened? Biden has loosened the sanctions," Haley continued, calling for stronger support for Israel.

Situation in Gaza

More than a week since Hamas launched an unprecedented attack by firing a barrage of rockets and infiltrating Israel, more than 4,100 people have died on both sides of the Gaza border. The Gaza Health Ministry said 2,750 Palestinians have been killed and 9,700 wounded since the fighting erupted, while over 1,400 Israelis have been killed in Hamas strikes that struck the Jewish state on October 7.

Israeli airstrikes have pulverized entire neighborhoods as Palestinian militants continue to fire rockets into Israel. The Israeli military also directed 1.1 million Palestinians to evacuate to the south to escape a campaign against Hamas militants in Gaza. The United States and Israel have established an agreement with Egypt to allow civilians to flee Gaza through the Rafah border opening, but no progress in efforts has been made so far.

"The Israeli government has not yet taken a position that would allow the crossing to be opened from the Gaza side, allowing the entry of aid or the exit of citizens from third countries," CNN quoted Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry as saying.

Egypt had earlier pushed back against proposals to establish the corridor from Gaza, saying such a measure would harm the Palestinian cause. It also created blast walls to prevent incursions.

The Israeli military, on Monday, claimed Hamas and other Palestinian militants are holding 199 hostages in Gaza-- at least 44 higher than previous estimates. Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, a military spokesman, said that the families have been notified.

US support for Israel

Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden is considering a trip to Israel in the coming days. However, he added the trip is yet to be finalised. If the President travels, it would be a powerful symbol of sympathy and support following the brutal attack by Hamas. A trip would be a chance for Biden to personally affirm to the Israeli people the US is standing firm behind them.

But it would come amid growing fears that a looming Israeli move into Gaza could spark a wider war with devastating humanitarian consequences. Biden's presence could be seen as a provocative move by Hamas' chief sponsor, Iran, or potentially viewed as tone-deaf by Arab nations as civilian casualties mount in Gaza.

Biden also made his strongest public statements yet to restrain Israel after the October 7 attack that killed more than 1,400 people including at least 30 US citizens, warning in an interview with CBS' 60 Minutes that aired on Sunday that Israel should not reoccupy Gaza.

“I think it'd be a big mistake,” Biden said. “Look, what happened in Gaza, in my view, is Hamas, and the extreme elements of Hamas don't represent all the Palestinian people. And I think that it would be a mistake for Israel to occupy Gaza again.” Israel left Gaza in 2005; Hamas won the elections the next year. Still, Biden said, “taking out the a necessary requirement”.

Many countries including Egypt and China have opined that Israel has exceeded its right of self-defence and called on the country to immediately cease its airstrikes on Gaza amid a deepening humanitarian crisis. Hundreds and thousands of Palestinians already taking shelter in schools and hospitals running low on food and water.

(with agency inputs)

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