Republicans blast Biden for releasing $6 billion in frozen Iran funds ahead of Hamas attack on Israel

Republicans in the House and Senate are tearing into the Biden administration for unfreezing $6 billion in Iranian assets months before Hamas terrorists launched a deadly and massive attack on Israel early Saturday. “Just weeks ago, the Biden administration handed over $6 billion to Iran, and today, innocent Israelis were murdered by Iran-backed terrorists,” Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., said in a statement. “We must continue to support our strongest ally in the Middle East and their right to defend themselves against these unprovoked, horrific attacks.” Blackburn spoke after Hamas terrorists invaded areas of southern Israel. Thousands of rockets were fired into Israel and dozens of fighters infiltrated through the border. Local Israeli media reported that at least 100 people have been killed in the assault. AT LEAST 100 DEAD AS HAMAS LAUNCHES UNPRECEDENTED ATTACK ON ISRAEL, NETANYAHU SAYS NATION IS ‘AT WAR’  Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared that Israel was “at war” and promised that the attackers would pay “an unprecedented price.” The White House said that President Biden was briefed “on the appalling Hamas terrorist attacks in Israel.” But Republicans highlighted recent moves by the Biden administration to release $6 billion in frozen Iranian funds as part of a prisoner swap deal. The deal allows the transfer of the money from South Korea to accounts in Qatar. The administration says the money can only be used for humanitarian purposes and the U.S. will have oversight as to how and when the funds are used. “This waiver allows for the transfer of funds from one location to another but does not change the fact that they can only be used to fund Iran’s purchases of humanitarian goods,” a State Department spokesperson said last month. “As we have said, no money is going to Iran directly and no taxpayer funds are being used. The funds held in South Korea are Iran’s funds.” But critics have argued that the money is fungible and could be diverted elsewhere. Iran is a known backer of Hamas and praised the Saturday attacks on Israel. The State Department has previously said that Iran provides some $100 million a year to Palestinian armed groups, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Republicans in both chambers highlighted the alleged link between the attacks and the funding being unfrozen by the Biden administration. ISRAELI PM NETANYAHU DECLARES ‘WAR AFTER HAMAS TERRORISTS LAUNCH MASSIVE ATTACK: LIVE UPDATES “This is exactly why so many Americans & Israelis were DISGUSTED to see [President Biden] give the Iranian regime $6 billion last month,” Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., said on X, formerly known as Twitter. “Every dollar given to Iran funds terrorism in the Ayatollah’s quest to destroy Israel. Iran is behind today’s invasion & everyone must say that.” In the House, Rep. Dan Bishop, R-N.C., said that Biden “just gave Hamas sponsor Iran $6 billion.”  “Today, innocent Israeli citizens have paid with their lives for his and the Obama holdovers’ venal incompetence,” he said. “This is a clear attack on Israel. We must fully #StandWithIsrael to defend itself & stand strong on the front lines of terrorism,” Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, posted. “We must act quickly to help Israel & reverse the damage of Biden’s $6BB funding of an Iranian regime backing each of the groups likely involved.” On the campaign trail, Sen. Tim Scott — who is running for the GOP 2024 White House nomination — said that the U.S. “didn’t just invite this aggression, we paid for it.” “Iran is the biggest funder of Hamas. This is the Biden $6 billion ransom payment at work,” he said. TED CRUZ SLAMS BIDEN’S $6B IRAN HOSTAGE DEAL AS CRITICS CALL IT A WIN FOR TERRORISTS, PUTIN  Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Saturday that the U.S. “unequivocally condemns the appalling attacks by Hamas terrorists against Israel, including civilians and civilian communities.” “There is never any justification for terrorism. We stand in solidarity with the government and people of Israel, and extend our condolences for the Israeli lives lost in these attacks. We will remain in close contact with our Israeli partners. The United States supports Israel’s right to defend itself,” he said. Fox News’ Benjamin Weinthal and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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