Monday, April 15, 2024

Harris Urges Immediate Cease-Fire in Gaza – What You Need to Know

HomeWARHarris Urges Immediate Cease-Fire in Gaza - What You Need to Know

Selma, Alabama – During a speech commemorating the historic Bloody Sunday civil rights march in Selma on Sunday, Vice President Kamala Harris made an impassioned plea for an immediate ceasefire in the Gaza conflict.

Calling the situation a “humanitarian catastrophe”, Harris condemned the dire conditions faced by Palestinians in Gaza, saying the suffering of innocent civilians compelled the need for urgent action.

“What we are seeing every day in Gaza is devastating,” Harris said. “We have seen reports of families eating leaves or animal feed. Women giving birth to malnourished babies with little or no medical care. And children dying from malnutrition and dehydration.”

Harris stressed that too many innocent Palestinians have been killed over the course of the conflict, which has raged for over 5 months after violence erupted in October last year. Gaza health authorities estimate over 30,000 Palestinians have been killed.

Pushing for a ceasefire deal reportedly on the table, Harris called on militant group Hamas to agree to an immediate 6-week pause in hostilities. She also urged Israel to increase the flow of humanitarian aid into Gaza, which remains under an Israeli blockade.

“The threat Hamas poses to the people of Israel must be eliminated,” Harris affirmed. And given the immense scale of suffering in Gaza, there must be an immediate ceasefire, for at least the next six weeks, which is what is currently on the table.

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Harris will meet with Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Monday, who has been involved in strategic military planning during the conflict. Her forceful remarks represented the strongest stance yet from the Biden administration, as it ramps up pressure on Israel while negotiations continue.

Last month, President Joe Biden called Israel’s military response “over the top”, and has pushed both sides to reach a deal before the Muslim holy month of Ramadan starts in early March. The proposed ceasefire deal would allow for a prisoner exchange and temporary halt in fighting leading up to the holiday.

While affirming Israel’s right to self-defense against Hamas rocket attacks, Harris condemned the militant group as a “brutal terrorist organization” that threatens innocent lives.

“Hamas claims it wants a cease-fire. Well, there is a deal on the table,” she stated.

Harris spotlighted the immense civilian suffering in Gaza, calling the humanitarian situation a “catastrophe.” She described scenes of civilians scrounging for food, giving birth without medical care, and children dying from lack of water and nutrition.

People in Gaza are starving,” she said. “The conditions are inhumane. And our common humanity compels us to act.”

Harris referenced a deadly incident on Thursday, when over 100 desperate Palestinians swarmed an aid convoy, prompting Israeli forces to open fire on the crowd. While witnesses alleged indiscriminate firing into the civilians, Israeli officials claimed the deaths were mainly due to a crush of people at the chaotic scene.

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Regardless of conflicting accounts, Harris asserted that Israel needs to expedite the flow of humanitarian assistance into Gaza, which remains under an air, land and sea blockade.

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

To alleviate the crisis, Harris called for additional border crossings to be opened, unnecessary restrictions on aid deliveries to be lifted, and restoration of basic utilities and services for Gaza’s population.

The vice president’s forceful remarks on the Gaza conflict come as the Biden administration faces mounting political pressure over its unwavering support for Israel.

Despite increasing criticism of Israel’s military actions, Biden has rejected calls for a permanent ceasefire. His perceived lack of empathy for Palestinian suffering has divided the Democratic party and alienated key supporters, including Black, Arab-American and younger progressive voters.

Pro-Palestinian protesters have dogged Biden at public events across the country to demonstrate opposition to U.S. backing of Israel amid allegations of war crimes. Last week, over 100,000 Arab-American voters in Michigan voted “uncommitted” instead of for Democratic candidates, underscoring risks to the party in swing states during the 2024 election.

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Black faith leaders have also called on the administration to halt military aid to Israel, claiming its bombing campaign amounts to “mass genocide” against Gazan civilians.

By staking out a more prominent stance urging an immediate ceasefire and highlighting Gazan humanitarian suffering, Harris appears to be responding to critics who have accused the administration of downplaying the crisis.

Her speech earned applause from the crowd gathered in Selma to commemorate the historic 1965 civil rights march across Edmund Pettus Bridge. The peaceful protest was met by violent police beatings in an event known as Bloody Sunday, seen as a turning point in the struggle for Black voting rights.

Harris linked the historic fight for civil rights to the present-day struggle for human rights and dignity in the Gaza conflict. As the first female, Black and South Asian vice president, her high-profile advocacy for Gazan civilians could help mend ties with alienated supporters seeking stronger action from the administration.

However, with ceasefire negotiations still ongoing and no deal imminent, it remains to be seen whether Harris’ heartfelt appeal will break the impasse. For now, the administration continues to walk a fine line – navigating domestic political tensions while upholding U.S. diplomatic engagement aimed at resolving the bloody conflict.

Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee is a prolific author who provides commentary and analysis on business, finance, politics, sports, and current events on his website Opportuneist. With over a decade of experience in journalism and blogging, Mezhar aims to deliver well-researched insights and thought-provoking perspectives on important local and global issues in society.

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