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Democrats Step Up Calls for Biden to Rein In Israel’s War

Democrats Step Up Calls for Biden to Rein In Israel’s War
Palestinians perform Friday prayers next to the rubble of the Al-Farooq Mosque, days after it was destroyed in an Israeli airstrike on Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, 01 March 2024. More than 30,200 Palestinians and over 1,300 Israelis have been killed, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), since Hamas militants launched an attack against Israel from the Gaza Strip on 07 October 2023, and the Israeli operations in Gaza and the West Bank which followed it. EPA-EFE/HAITHAM IMAD

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 US 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. US 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, US 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, saying troops didn’t fire into the crowd and that most victims were trampled or struck 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.

Read more: Hamas Sends Delegation to Cairo as Israel Seeks Hostages’ Status

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.

Hamas is designated a terrorist organization by the US and the European Union.

The war has turned into a political risk for Biden in the US, where some 100,000 voters, or more than 13%, turned in “uncommitted” primary ballots in Michigan after calls by activists to protest his support of Israel. In San Francisco, pro-Palestinian protesters nearly penetrated the security perimeter around Biden’s motorcade last month.

“We need a cease-fire,” Representative Debbie Dingell, a Michigan Democrat, said on NBC’s Meet the Press. “That horrific picture we all saw on Thursday was desperation. It was total desperation.”

The Israel-Hamas war has tested traditional broad support in Congress for a long-standing ally.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair Ben Cardin said he opposes tightening conditions for further military aid to Israel.

“Israel is our ally,” the Maryland Democrat said on Fox News Sunday. “ Israel is in a fight for its security. It needs to defend itself.”

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