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Democrats step up calls for Biden to rein in Israel's war

Alicia Diaz, Bloomberg News on

Published in News & Features

Democratic senators called on President Joe Biden to press Israel for a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip, citing recent deaths of Palestinian civilians in its war with Hamas and what they portrayed as a lagging U.S. response to the humanitarian crisis.

“This killing has to stop, of the innocent people there,” Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin said on CNN’s "State of the Union." “The medical situation on the ground there is horrible, horrible.”

Hamas said it’s holding talks in Cairo starting Sunday on a framework that may lead lead to a temporary cease-fire in Gaza. U.S. officials said Saturday that Israel has essentially agreed to a six-week halt if Hamas commits to handing over hostages categorized as vulnerable, including women, the ill or injured and the elderly.

With the Biden administration under domestic political pressure to address the suffering of Palestinian civilians, U.S. and Jordanian forces airdropped some 38,000 meals along the coast of Gaza on Saturday. More airdrops are planned.

“This notion of airdrops — I support that, but that is not going to solve the problem,” Durbin said. He urged the administration to “push for the cease-fire and the humanitarian response as quickly as possible.

“Members of Congress, at least the Democrats in the Senate, have been calling for that right and left,” he added.

 

Dozens of Palestinians were killed or injured on Thursday during an outbreak of violence near an aid convoy in northern Gaza. Israel said it would review the incident and has denied its troops shot at people, saying that most victims were trampled or hit in the chaos.

“I think it is time for the president to use all the leverage that he has to get a long-term cease-fire. I think if that cease-fire doesn’t come, it’s in Israel’s interest for them to pause military activity to solve the humanitarian crisis,” Senator Chris Murphy, a Democrat who chairs a Foreign Relations subcommittee on the Middle East, said Sunday on ABC’s "This Week."

The head of the European Council condemned the “killing of innocent civilians” waiting for food and called for an independent inquiry into the incident. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates joined the criticism, accusing Israeli troops of targeting civilians.

More than 30,000 Palestinians have died, according to the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry, since Israel launched its assault after Hamas militants attacked Israel on Oct. 7, which left about 1,200 people dead and 250 others kidnapped by Hamas.

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