FIRST ON FOX: Amid Israel’s deadly war, a group of Republican senators led by Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn, are urging the Biden administration to freeze Iran’s $6 billion in assets that were released to Qatar from South Korean accounts in exchange for American prisoners last month.
‘To stand by and allow Iran access to these funds as Hamas infiltrates Israel and murders, rapes, and mutilates countless Israelis is unconscionable,’ lawmakers wrote in a letter to Biden Monday evening.
While the administration said the funds can only be used for humanitarian aid and other resources for Iranian citizens, lawmakers argue that the ‘money is fungible’ — meaning that a unit of currency is interchangeable with another unit of the same value.
‘Your administration claims these funds are only available for humanitarian use, but money is fungible, and there is a significant risk they could be used to further efforts by Iran or Hamas against Israel,’ they wrote. ‘Moreover, allowing $6 billion to flow into Iran’s economy, even if the purpose is for humanitarian aid, allows the Iranian regime to reallocate even more funds to supporting terrorism.’
The lawmakers added: ‘The State Department should immediately rescind the waivers that allowed Iranian funds to be converted and moved to more accessible bank accounts, as well as work with U.S. ally Qatar to immediately freeze the accounts containing these funds.’
A group of 20 Republicans in the upper chamber, including Blackburn and Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.; Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.; John Thune, R-S.D.; Mike Lee, R-Utah; Rick Scott, R-Fla.; James Lankford, R-Okla.; John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Tom Cotton, R-Ark., among others, signed the letter.
The report comes as nearly 800 casualties have been reported, and 11 Americans have been killed, the U.S. State Department confirmed Monday.
Blackburn told Fox News Digital in a statement that ‘President Biden is refusing to freeze the $6 billion ransom payment to Iran because he is afraid to admit it was a catalyst for the attacks.’
‘He still has time to limit the damage,’ she said, adding that Biden should immediately freeze the funds.
Hamas militant terrorists also took more than 100 people hostage when they launched the surprise attack on Saturday. Israeli soldiers, grandmothers, infants and teenagers were all victims of the hostage-taking.
The deal, which was reached last month, allowed the transfer of Iran’s frozen assets held in a South Korean bank to accounts in Qatar. The administration said 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.
However, Hamas spokesperson Ghazi Hamad told the BBC that they had Iran’s support for the attacks, which began Saturday. A bombshell Wall Street Journal report Sunday also said Hamas and Hezbollah helped Iran plan the attack, contradicting the administration’s statements.
Israel formally declared war on Hamas after the attack. President Biden affirmed Israel’s right to defend itself as the Pentagon catapulted assistance to Israel Defense Forces over the weekend.
In a post Saturday, State Department spokesperson Matt Miller said on X, formerly known as Twitter, that ‘the deal to bring U.S. citizens home from Iran has nothing to do with the horrific attack on Israel.’
‘Not a penny has been spent, and when it is, it can only go for humanitarian needs like food and medicine. Anything to the contrary is false,’ Miller wrote.
Fox News Digital has reached out to the White House for comment.