Harris wants a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip, so aid can be delivered

Israeli-Hamas Interaction in Gaza: Israel’s Right to defend itself against Hamas, a U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris told NPR

Vice President Kamala Harris on Sunday called for an immediate, temporary cease-fire in Gaza to facilitate a hostage deal between Israel and Hamas, and pressed Israel to do more to increase the flow of aid to alleviate the “immense scale of suffering” among Palestinians.

“The vice president will reiterate civilian casualties must be reduced,” the official said. Harris will express concern for the safety of people in Rafah, and the importance of creating a hopeful political horizon for the Palestinian people, according to an official.

The former Israeli military chief’s visit threatens to worsen his relations with political rival Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. An Israeli source with knowledge of the matter who was not authorized to speak publicly told NPR that Netanyahu was upset at Gantz for arranging the Washington trip without his knowledge.

Ms. Harris’s remarks, delivered in Selma, Ala., bolstered a recent push by the Biden administration for an agreement and came a day before she was to meet with a top Israeli cabinet official involved in war planning, Benny Gantz. Her tone was more urgent than that of President Biden, who had said recently that the White House was building frustration with Israel. The president said Israel’s response to the attack was over the top.

There was a deadly incident when Israeli troops fired on a crowd of people in Gaza trying to get food from an aid convoy. One-hundred and fifteen people were killed in the chaos, according to Gaza’s health authorities. Israel said it shot at the crowd when they put its troops in danger, and that many people were trampled as they crowded around the aid convoy. They have called for an investigation.

The U.S. began air-dropping desperately needed aid over the Gaza Strip on Saturday. Getting aid to Gaza has proved difficult, due to ongoing fighting and poor coordination with the Israeli military.

Ms. Harris demanded Israel to increase aid into the besieged enclave and assailed what she called a humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza.

Ms. Harris said the US supports Israel’s right to defend itself against Hamas, which she said had no regard for innocent life in Israel or in Gaza.

Harris, who is also the vice president, said in a statement that Hamas should agree to the six-week pause currently on the table and that Israel should increase the flow of aid into the besieged enclave.

It is necessary for an immediate cease-fire to take place given the scale of suffering in Gaza. That line drew loud applause from the crowd that had gathered to mark the civil rights event.

Ms. Harris was in Selma on Sunday for the 59th anniversary of Bloody Sunday. Her comments on Israel were her most pointed to date regarding the conflict in the Middle East, which killed more than 30,000 Palestinians and put the enclave on the verge of famine.

“What we are seeing every day in Gaza is devastating. There have been stories of people eating leaves or animal feeds, mothers giving birth to babies with little or no medical care, and children dying from malnutrition and dehydration. “Too many innocent Palestinians have been killed.”

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