Politics, Americas, Middle East

Under fire, US congressman tries to take back remarks that Gaza should be treated 'like Hiroshima'

'I used metaphor to convey need for both Israel, Ukraine to win wars as swiftly as possible,' says Tim Walberg, former pastor

Alperen Aktas  | 01.04.2024 - Update : 01.04.2024
Under fire, US congressman tries to take back remarks that Gaza should be treated 'like Hiroshima'

ISTANBUL

Facing a backlash, a US congressman has tried to walk back comments saying the besieged Gaza Strip, home to over 2 million people, should be treated “like Nagasaki and Hiroshima.”

At a town meeting last week in southern Michigan, Tim Walberg, a Republican congressman, was asked by a resident of his district about the US building a pier off Gaza to deliver humanitarian aid to the people there, who the UN says face a dire risk of famine.

"We should not be spending a dime on humanitarian aid," he said on video posted online last Thursday, adding: “Get it over quick. The same should be in Ukraine.”

“It should be like Hiroshima and Nagasaki,” said Walberg, a former pastor, mentioning the only two cities hit by nuclear weapons, where up to about 226,000 people, mostly civilians, died in 1945 after being bombed by the US.

On X on Sunday, facing criticism, Walberg tried to walk back his remarks, adding that his remarks had been unfairly edited.

"As a child who grew up in the Cold War era, the last thing I’d advocate for would be the use of nuclear weapons,” he wrote, without explaining why he would reference the only nuclear bombs dropped on cities, ever.

"In a shortened clip, I used a metaphor to convey the need for both Israel and Ukraine to win their wars as swiftly as possible, without putting American troops in harm's way," he continued.

"My reasoning was the exact opposite of what is being reported: The quicker these wars end, the fewer innocent lives will be caught in the crossfire," he added.

Detroit, Michigan's biggest city, has a large Arab-American population, but it is not part of Walberg's congressional district.

Since last Oct. 7, under relentless attacks by Israel, nearly 33,000 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed and over 75, 000 others injured.

Israel has also imposed a crippling blockade on the Gaza Strip, leaving its population, particularly residents of northern Gaza, on the verge of starvation.

The Israeli war has pushed 85% of Gaza’s population into internal displacement amid acute shortages of food, clean water, and medicine, while 60% of the enclave's infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed, according to the UN.

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