Kamala Harris demands ‘immediate ceasefire, for at least next six weeks’

The vice president began her speech marking 59 years since the “Bloody Sunday” attacks on civil-rights activists in Selma, Ala., by discussing Gaza.

By Israel Today Staff | | Topics: America, Gaza
US Vice President Kamala Harris speaks at the National League of Cities via video conference on March 8, 2021. Credit: Lawrence Jackson/White House.
US Vice President Kamala Harris speaks at the National League of Cities via video conference on March 8, 2021. Credit: Lawrence Jackson/White House.

Overlooking Edmund Pettus Bridge, the site of the “Bloody Sunday” attacks on civil-rights activists in 1965 in Selma, Ala., US Vice President Kamala Harris opened her speech marking the 59th anniversary of that violence by addressing Israel and Gaza.

“Before I begin today, I must address the humanitarian crisis in Gaza,” she said. “What we are seeing every day in Gaza is devastating. 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.”

Speaking less than a week after 13.2% of Michigan voters in the Democratic primary voted “uncommitted,” the vice president referred to the “hungry, desperate people,” who approached aid trucks last Thursday “simply trying to secure food for their families after weeks of nearly no aid reaching northern Gaza.”

“They were met with gunfire and chaos,” she said. “Our hearts break for the victims of that horrific tragedy and for all the innocent people in Gaza, who are suffering from what is clearly a humanitarian catastrophe.”

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

Some have blamed Israel for dozens of deaths during a riot amid aid delivery. Israel has said that it fired warning shots—aiming in a nonlethal manner—only when Palestinians approached military checkpoints. The Israeli military said that its investigation revealed that its troops did not fire on the aid convoy.

Harris noted that the Pentagon dropped supplies in Gaza on Saturday, “and the United States will continue these air drops.”

“We will work on a new route by sea to deliver aid, and the Israeli government must do more to significantly increase the flow of aid. No excuses,” she said, echoing remarks by the US president.

“They must open new border crossings. They must not impose any unnecessary restrictions on the delivery of aid,” Harris said. “They must ensure humanitarian personnel sites and convoys are not targeted and they must work to restore basic services and promote order in Gaza so more food, water and fuel can reach those in need.”

Harris reiterated that Israel has the right to self-defense and that the threat of Hamas, which has vowed to repeat its Oct. 7 terror attack on Israel, “must be eliminated.”

“The threat Hamas poses to the people of Israel must be eliminated, 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,” she said.

“This will get the hostages out and get a significant amount of aid in. This would allow us to build something more enduring to ensure Israel is secure and to respect the right of the Palestinian people to dignity freedom and self-determination,” Harris added. “Hamas claims it wants a ceasefire. Well, there is a deal on the table, and as we have said Hamas needs to agree to that deal.”

“Let’s get a ceasefire, let’s reunite the hostages with their families, and let’s provide immediate relief to the people of Gaza,” she said.

In mid-December, Politico reported that Harris had urged Biden to show more “sensitivity to Palestinian civilians.” A source close to Harris’s office told the magazine that the vice president thinks Washington should be “tougher” on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“She has called for being ‘more forceful at seeking a long-term peace and two-state solution,’” Politico reported.

Harris’s office told reporters there was “no daylight” between her and Biden on Israel and Gaza.

With reporting by JNS.