In an unexpected twist of events, an Iranian-backed militant group launched an assault on Israel, drawing sharp scrutiny of President Biden's Middle East policies. Prominent conservative critics, including former President Donald Trump and lawmakers in both the House and Senate, wasted no time in attributing blame to Biden, asserting that his decisions in the region have only emboldened Hamas and its primary supporter, Iran.
The devastating terrorist onslaught on the Jewish state resulted in the tragic loss of over 200 Israeli lives, with Hamas also taking numerous civilians and Israeli soldiers hostage in Gaza, as confirmed by the Israeli military. Despite the mounting criticism, President Biden opted not to directly address the allegations during his Saturday afternoon remarks from the White House. Nevertheless, he reiterated his unwavering commitment to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, assuring that the United States would consistently stand with Israel.
"Israel unequivocally possesses the right to protect itself and its citizens, period," asserted Biden. "There is never any justification for terrorist attacks. In my administration, our support for Israel's security remains rock solid and resolute." The President further cautioned against any attempts by anti-Israel factions to exploit the attacks for political purposes, emphasizing the close international attention on the unfolding situation.
The crux of the contention for many critics revolves around a prisoner exchange deal with Iran brokered by the Biden administration in September. In exchange for prisoners, the administration pledged to release $6 billion in previously frozen oil revenues. While the expectation was that these funds would be earmarked for humanitarian purposes, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi made it unequivocal to NBC News that the money would be allocated "wherever we need it."
Victoria Coates, former Deputy National Security Advisor in the Trump administration, argued that Iran had been grappling with financial constraints due to sanctions imposed by the previous administration. Coates contended that by unfreezing funds and allowing oil sales, the Biden administration was, in essence, enabling Iran to finance violent actions in the region and attacks on Israel. President Trump, on his part, condemned the attacks as disgraceful and expressed his full support for Israel's robust defense.
Some are advocating for President Biden to be held accountable for the attack. House Majority Leader Steve Scalise of Louisiana stated, "The Biden Administration must face scrutiny for its appeasement of these Hamas terrorists, including transferring billions of dollars to them and their Iranian supporters." Meanwhile, the administration dismisses the conservative outcry as a disinformation campaign, asserting that none of the $6 billion has been utilized, according to National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson. Watson maintains that these funds are solely designated for humanitarian purposes, such as providing food and medicine for the Iranian people, and have no connection to the devastating attacks.