Washington — Republican presidential candidates have come out forcefully against the U.S. welcoming Palestinian refugees fleeing the intensifying war between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, claiming that their culture is incompatible with American values and that they could be terrorists.

The specter of a broader regional conflict and refugee crisis has intensified recently after the U.S.-designated terrorist group Hamas carried out a series of brutal attacks in southern Israel earlier this month, killing more than 1,400 people and abducting some 200 more. Israel has retaliated with a barrage of air strikes into Hamas-controlled Gaza that has killed thousands of Palestinians. The Israeli military is also expected to soon launch a ground offensive into the territory, which has had its borders sealed since the Hamas attacks.

The stance against welcoming Palestinian refugees to the U.S. has, in many ways, become the latest litmus test for GOP White House hopefuls. Most of the candidates have endorsed hardline positions on other immigration issues, such as promising mass deportations and denying birthright citizenship to the children of unauthorized immigrants.

However, the Biden administration has not announced any efforts to resettle refugees from Gazadespite at least one progressive Democratic member of Congress calling for it to do so. Historically, very few Palestinian refugees even come to the U.S., and those who do are heavily vetted by the government.

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