Republican U.S. Senator from Maine Susan Collins, alongside a bipartisan delegation of Senators, gave remarks at a press conference Sunday in Tel Aviv, Israel, in which she voiced her support for the Biden Administration’s request to Congress for $14 billion in aid to assist Israel in defeating the Islamist terrorist organization Hamas.
The bipartisan delegation, led by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), traveled to the Middle East Friday to meet with officials from Saudi Arabia and Israel to discuss the ongoing Israel-Hamas war and diplomatic relations in the region.
Sen. Collins opened her remarks by thanking Sen. Graham for bringing the bipartisan delegation together to show their “support for the one democracy in the middle East – Israel.”
Collins then told the emotional story of how both before and on the diplomatic trip she met with the families of hostages that Hamas took during their Oct. 7 offensive that resulted in the deaths of at least 1,400 Israelis.
“I cannot stop thinking about a little three-year-old girl named Abigail who has been taken hostage by Hamas,” Collins said.
“This is her picture, which was given to me both in Washington, and I brought on this trip, and met more of her relatives today,” she continued, holding up a picture of the young girl who had been taken hostage. “Her older sister and brother, ages six and nine, hid for 14 hours in a closet to escape Hamas. Her mother was murdered, and her father was murdered as he was trying to rush little Abigail away. “
The Israel Foreign Ministry identified the parents as Smadar and Roy Idan, former employees of the Ministry and residents of the Kfar Aza kibbutz on Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip.
“What kind of people commit such atrocities?” Collins said. “This is not a close call. This is a clear case. Hamas is a terrorist group, and we must do all that we can to support Israel in its quest to eliminate Hamas.”
Collins, who serves as Vice Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, then stated that she would be working with both her Democratic and Republican colleagues “in support of the Biden Administration’s request for $14 billion to assist Israel as it defeats Hamas.”
“It is not only in Israel’s interest,” Collins explained. “It’s not only in the interest of the countries in this region. It’s in America’s interest. It’s in the interest of our world.”
The Biden Administration requested $14 billion in aid for Israel from Congress on Friday as part of a massive $106 billion national security package that also would include $61 billion in military aid for Ukraine.
The other members of the bipartisan delegation are Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut), Cory Booker (D-New Jersey), Katie Britt (R-Alabama), Ben Cardin (D-Maryland), Chris Coons (D-Delaware), Jack Reed (D-Rhode Island), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), and John Thune (R-South Dakota).
The full press conference can be watched here.