WASHINGTON—United States Senator Bill Hagerty (R-TN), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today pressed Secretary of State Antony Blinken on U.S. taxpayer support that is benefiting Iran-backed Hamas terrorists in Gaza. Under repeated questioning, Secretary Blinken was unable to guarantee to Hagerty that U.S. taxpayer-funded foreign assistance to Hamas-controlled Gaza was not used, directly or indirectly, to help Hamas carry out the terrorist attacks of October 7.
“Can you tell me the amount of funding overall under your watch that’s gone into Gaza?” Hagerty asked, in reference to a letter that he sent to Secretary Blinken and USAID Administrator Samantha Power on October 27.
“Overall, we’ve provided about a billion dollars in assistance to the Palestinians through the [United Nations] Works and Relief Agency,” Blinken replied.
“That’s a significant amount of money,” Hagerty said. “And the question I’d like to ask is, can you guarantee us that no U.S. taxpayer money went to fund the attack that Hamas delivered in Israel on October the 7th?”
Blinken refused to confirm. “We’ve had, from day one—and we’ll get, obviously get back to you in response to this letter—a robust monitoring inspection verification system for the assistance that goes to any international organization,” Blinken answered.
Hagerty again pressed Blinken for a guarantee that U.S. taxpayer dollars didn’t go to Hamas to help fund the October 7 attack. Blinken again evaded the question. “Everything that we’re doing in terms of making sure that the assistance is used for purposes for which it’s designated, not for other purposes, as I said, we have a robust system in place,” he said.
Asked by Hagerty a third time, Blinken refused to guarantee that U.S. taxpayer-funded foreign assistance did not help fund Hamas’s attack. “What I can guarantee is that we take every possible precaution to ensure that these resources are not diverted.”
Hagerty pointed to internal State Department emails recently revealed by a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, in which U.S. officials warned during internal deliberations in March 2021: “Due to its overall strength and level of control over Gaza, we assess there is a high risk Hamas could potentially derive indirect, unintentional benefit from U.S. assistance to Gaza.”
Blinken agreed with his department’s assessment, yet refused to guarantee that the U.S. is not funding Hamas terrorists.
“Israel has said that Hamas is diverting foreign aid; Hamas has even demonstrated that with their own videos. Your own department has warned about the high risk, and I’ve yet to see, but I hope to, where the actual funds flow is coming to Hamas, from our government to Gaza. I’m deeply concerned here, and we need to be convinced that we’re not funding both sides of this war, that U.S. taxpayers aren’t put in a position of funding a vicious cycle. And I think your department needs to confirm that with this Committee, so that as we appropriate a massive request for funding, we can assess the risk ourselves,” Hagerty concluded.