Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
Alexandria Ocasio-CortezREUTERS/Kevin Wurm

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) on Sunday defended accusing Israel of genocide against Palestinian Arabs and advocating for cuts to US military aid until humanitarian relief flows freely in Gaza.

Speaking to CNN’s Jake Tapper, Ocasio-Cortez said that her decision to use the term genocide, as she did during a floor speech on Friday in the House chamber, was “taken with extraordinary gravity”.

She claimed that the escalating humanitarian crisis in Gaza has “crossed the threshold of intent.”

“What we are seeing here, I think, with a forced famine is beyond our ability to deny or explain away,” Ocasio-Cortez told Tapper. “There is no targeting of Hamas in precipitating a mass famine of a million people, half of whom are children.”

She also said that she disagrees with the Israeli government restricting the flow of food and aid until Hamas frees the hostages and lays down arms.

“We are talking about famine,” she said. “The actions of Hamas should not be tied to whether a 3-year-old can eat. The actions of Hamas do not justify forcing thousands, hundreds of thousands of people to eat grass as their bodies consume themselves. We and the Israeli government have the right to go after Hamas. But we are talking about population of millions of innocent Palestinians. We’re talking about collective punishment, which is in unjustifiable.”

Ocasio-Cortez, who is known by her initials AOC, has a history of anti-Israel behavior.

In 2019, she criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in an interview with Israel’s Channel 12 News while arguing that criticizing Israel’s policies is not being antisemitic.

In a previous radio interview, Ocasio-Cortez said that Israel is “criminal” in its treatment of Palestinian Arabs, whom she said have no other choice but to “riot” against the Jewish state.

Before that, she said that cutting military and economic aid to Israel as a way to signal opposition to Israeli policies should be “on the table.” AOC has also called Israel an “apartheid state”.