Obama warns Israel’s actions in Gaza could ‘backfire’

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Former U.S. President Barack Obama warned that any actions by Israel that ignore the human cost of the war against Hamas “could ultimately backfire.”

In a statement — posted on the online site Medium and titled “Thoughts on Israel and Gaza” — Obama argued that moves such as cutting off food and water to Gaza could “harden Palestinian attitudes for generations,” weaken international support for Israel and “undermine efforts to achieve peace and stability in the region.”

In the statement, Obama reiterated the right of Israel to defend itself against “wanton violence.” He also called Israel’s decision to allow relief trucks into Gaza “an encouraging step.” However, he argued that more needs to be done by the international community to provide critical aid.

During his presidency, Obama backed Israel’s right to self-defense against Hamas and tried, but failed, to negotiate a peace deal. The former U.S. president had an at-times difficult relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with current President Joe Biden, then serving as Obama’s vice president, often acting as a mediator.

Since the October 7 attack by Hamas, Biden’s administration has expressed unqualified support for Israel.