Kamala Harris Calls for ‘Immediate Cease-Fire’

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Kamala Harris Calls for ‘Immediate Cease-Fire’


Vice President Kamala Harris on Sunday called for an “immediate ceasefire” in Gaza, saying Hamas should agree to the six-week pause currently being discussed and that Israel should increase the flow of aid to the besieged enclave amid a humanitarian crisis.

Ms. Harris’s comments, delivered in Selma, Alabama, underscored a recent push by the president for an agreement and came a day before her meeting with a senior Israeli Cabinet official involved in war planning, Benny Gantz. Her tone, sharper and more forceful than President Biden’s in recent days, showed the White House’s growing frustration with Israel. Last month, the president called Israel’s response to the Hamas-led attack on October 7 “excessive.”

Ms. Harris called Gaza’s horrific conditions a “humanitarian catastrophe,” giving her strongest assessment so far of the Middle East conflict that has killed more than 30,000 Palestinians and pushed the enclave to the brink of famine, according to Gaza health authorities.

“What we see every day in Gaza is devastating,” Ms. Harris said. “We have seen reports of families eating leaves or animal feed. Women give birth to malnourished babies with little or no medical care. And children die from malnutrition and dehydration. As I have said many times, too many innocent Palestinians have been killed.”

She added: “Given the immense scale of suffering in Gaza, there must be an immediate ceasefire.”

President Biden is pushing for a deal between Hamas and Israel that would allow for the release of hostages and a temporary ceasefire until Ramadan, the Muslim holy month that begins around March 10. U.S. officials said Israel “more or less accepted.” ” terms of the agreement, but Hamas has yet to agree to it.

Ms. Harris reiterated that the United States supports Israel’s right to defend itself against the ongoing threat of Hamas, which she said has no regard for innocent lives in Israel or the Gaza Strip. Ms. Harris called Hamas a “brutal terrorist organization” that should be eliminated.

“Hamas claims it wants a ceasefire,” she said. “Well, there’s a deal on the table.”

Ms. Harris’ comments also come at a time when the political consequences of the Biden administration’s unwavering support for Israel are coming into greater focus. While President Biden has increasingly criticized Israel’s response to the Hamas-led attack on October 7, his rejection of calls for a ceasefire and a series of missteps in showing a lack of compassion for the Palestinians have divided and important the Democratic Party Alienated voters, including black, young and Arab voters.

War opponents and Palestinian supporters have followed Mr. Biden to events across the country to protest his support for the war, and prominent black faith leaders have called on the government to end financial support for Israel’s war in Gaza, claiming that it is is “mass genocide”.

And perhaps the most glaring warning sign so far is the fact that more than 100,000 Arab voters voted “non-bindingly” in Michigan’s primary election – a preview of what could unfold in other key swing states that helped elect Mr. Biden later this year contributed in 2020.

Ms. Harris, who has pushed the government to express more compassion for Palestinians, drew applause from the crowd gathered at the conclusion of the meeting during parts of her remarks on Gaza points. Ms. Harris continued her remarks, recalling the day in March 1965 when black Americans were brutally beaten by white police officers on the Edmund Pettus Bridge for marching for their right to vote. The event was widely credited with staunch support for the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which was passed five months later.

Ms Harris condemned a violent scene that unfolded in Gaza on Thursday when more than 100 Gazans desperate for food boarded an aid convoy and were met with what Ms Harris called “chaos and gunfire” after Israel opened fire on a crowd.

“The people of Gaza are starving,” Ms. Harris said. “The conditions are inhumane. And our common humanity compels us to act.”

Ms. Harris said on Sunday that Israel must do more to allow aid to flow to Gaza, including opening its borders, lifting all unnecessary restrictions on aid deliveries and restoring services to Gaza.

Israeli and Palestinian officials and witnesses have given varying accounts of the chaos, with Israeli officials blaming crowds for most of the deaths while witnesses reported extensive firing by Israeli forces.

“The Israeli government must do more to significantly increase the flow of aid,” she said. “No excuses.”



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2024-03-04 04:15:20

www.nytimes.com