WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Tuesday said the U.S. has seen no evidence that Israel has committed genocide during its military operations against Hamas in Gaza.

“We don’t have any evidence of genocide being created,” Austin said during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing focused on President Joe Biden’s latest budget request.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin testifies
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Capitol Hill on April 9, 2024.Francis Chung / POLITICO via AP

Asked by Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., whether that means Israel is not committing genocide in Gaza, Austin said again, “We don’t have evidence of that.” 

Earlier in the hearing, Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., had asked the defense secretary if Hamas’ attack on Israel on Oct. 7 should be considered an act of genocide. 

“What we witnessed on Oct. 7, senator, was a horrific terrorist attack by Hamas,” Austin said, adding it “certainly is a war crime.”

Wicker had also asked Austin whether Hamas would stop its aggression toward Israel if the country laid down its arms today.

“I seriously doubt that,” Austin said.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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