Following Hamas’s attack on Israel, right-wing commentators speculated that funds provided by the Biden administration may have played a part in the fatal violence. The White House National Security Council (NSC) has refuted claims that Iran, which supports Hamas, used the $6 billion in frozen Iranian funds released in exchange for the release of five American detainees to help plan the Saturday assaults. Marsha Blackburn, a Republican senator from Tennessee, argued that a 2021 decision to give $235 million in aid to Palestinians may have also contributed to the funding of Hamas, a terrorist group that the US and the EU have both banned.
The Biden administration approved plans to offer $235 million in aid to Palestinians in April 2021, including $150 million for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) and $75 million for economic and development assistance in the West Bank and Gaza. This was a change from the previous administration, when Donald Trump suspended practically all UNRWA financing after it severed ties with the Palestinian Authority in 2018.
In the aftermath of the attack, which killed at least 700 people in Israel and 400 more in Gaza, Blackburn demanded that the Biden administration suspend all aid to the Palestinian Authority and the “Iran-backed terrorist group Hamas.” Newsweek requested reaction from the White House through email.
Republican political consultant Ryan Girdusky also chastised Biden for supporting Palestinian funding in the first few months of his presidency. Austria and Germany said on Monday that they would stop help to Palestinians in response to the Hamas attack, and the European Union’s foreign ministers will meet in Brussels on Tuesday to discuss future development support.
Trump called the Hamas strikes a “disgrace” and asserted that Israel has “every right to defend itself.” Other Republicans, including Blackburn and Trump’s fellow 2024 presidential candidate Vivek Ranswawarmy, have erroneously claimed that $6 billion in Iranian oil money transferred from nations such as South Korea and Qatar helped pay the assaults.