Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) shared concerns Monday over the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, saying he’s had to consider whether it could escalate into a global conflict amid rising tensions across the Middle East.
“I have had to answer a question from people that I never had to answer in 30 years of public life, which is: Could this be World War III?” Kaine said Monday in an interview with “The Hill” on NewsNation.
“People are mindful of the World War I regional conflict. And then a new party joined, and another party joined and another party joined. And then another party joined,” he said. “And then suddenly, you had a global war.”
The war between Israel and Hamas began Oct. 7 and has put the world on edge as skirmishes continue between the Israel military and Iran-backed Hezbollah militants in Lebanon, as well as Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen.
The conflict started after Hamas militants launched a surprise attack on Israel, killing more than 1,000 civilians. Israeli airstrikes and a recent ground invasion of Gaza have since killed more than 10,000 people, including 4,100 children, according to a Monday update from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Health Ministry.
Kaine advocated for a “humanitarian pause” in the conflict in an effort to assist Palestinian civilians. Israeli leaders have been reluctant to even consider such a move, despite pressure from the Biden administration.
“There needs to be a clear differentiation between Hamas and Palestinians in Gaza. Most people who live in Gaza, they are not Hamas. They are under the thumb of Hamas,” Kaine said. “So what Israel needs to do — and I called for it with colleagues — is a humanitarian pause to enable the delivery of aid to these Gazans who are suffering, who are without water, food, and medicine.”
He criticized the Israeli military effort, saying that the reluctance to assist civilians in Gaza is hurting the Israeli cause and making a wider regional conflict more likely.
“[Gazans are] entitled to get humanitarian aid: water, medicine, food. And Israel can help make that happen, and they need to help make that happen because they need to clarify that the war is against Hamas, not against Palestinians,” he said. “The extent it seems the war is against Palestinians it is hurting Israel and running the risk of bringing more parties into this conflict.”
Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday that he plans for Israel to take “overall security responsibility” in Gaza “for an indefinite period” after the military completes its invasion of the territory. A nearly 30-year military occupation of Gaza by Israel ended in 1993.
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