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Kamala Harris calls for Israel-Hamas war immediate cease-fire “given the immense scale of suffering” in Gaza

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Rania Abu Anza’s twins, a boy and a girl, were conceived after she spent more than a decade and three rounds of fertility treatments trying to become a mother. At just six months old, they were both killed Saturday, along with at least 14 other members of the Abu Anza family, in an Israeli strike on the southern Gaza city of Rafah.

“What did these babies do,” the bereaved mother asked, holding her babies’ bodies. “What are you doing? Just watching us die?”

After nearly five months of a war that has killed some 30,000 people in Gaza, according to its Hamas-run Health Ministry, the Biden administration issued its fiercest criticism of the conflict to date Sunday, with Vice President Kamala Harris labeling the situation in the Gaza Strip a “humanitarian catastrophe” and calling for an “immediate cease-fire.”

“People in Gaza are starving. The conditions are inhumane and our common humanity compels us to act,” Harris said at an event commemorating “Bloody Sunday” in Selma, Alabama, where state troopers beat civil rights marchers on the Edmund Pettus Bridge nearly 60 years ago. 

Vice President Harris Visits Selma, Alabama For Annual Bloody Sunday Commemoration
U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris speaks in Selma, Alabama, March 3, 2024.

Elijah Nouvelage/Getty


Harris called for the Israeli government to do more to increase the flow of aid to Gaza to ease the suffering there, adding that there could be “no excuses.”

She said the threat that Hamas poses to the people of Israel “must be eliminated,” but added that, “given the immense scale of suffering in Gaza, there must be an immediate cease-fire for at least the next six weeks, which is what is currently on the table.”

The U.S. conducted its first airdrops of food aid into Gaza on Saturday, one day before a Hamas delegation arrived in Cairo for continued cease-fire talks. A U.S. official said Israel had agreed on the framework for a truce deal, but Israeli media reported that the country’s government then boycotted the talks on Sunday because Hamas had rejected its demand for a complete list of hostages who are still alive.

“Hamas claims it wants a cease-fire. Well, there is a deal on the table. And as we have said, Hamas needs to agree to that deal,” Harris said in Selma on Sunday. “Let’s get a cease-fire. Let’s reunite the hostages with their families. And let’s provide immediate relief to the people of Gaza.”

Senior Hamas official Basem Naim told CBS News partner network BBC News that the group was unable to compile a complete list of surviving hostages.

“Practically, it is impossible to know who is still alive,” Naim said. There are still believed to be about 130 Israeli hostages held in Gaza. Hamas seized about 240 people as hostages during its Oct. 7 terror attack, which sparked the ongoing war, but it is not believed to have retained control over all of them during the conflict. About 100 of the hostages were released during a previous short-term truce in November.


Global outcry grows after carnage at Gaza aid convoy

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The Biden administration has repeatedly said a cease-fire deal is close, and the White House has been pushing to have it in place by the start of Ramadan on March 10. 

Israeli war cabinet member Benny Gantz was in Washington on Monday, meanwhile, to meet with Harris, where the U.S. vice president was expected to deliver a similarly forceful message.

Pressure for a cease-fire and hostage release deal has also been intensifying across Israel.

The families of those still being held in Gaza, along with supporters, marched in Jerusalem this weekend demanding Prime Minister Netanyahu agree to an immediate truce with Hamas. 

Among them was Shay Dickman, who wants her cousin Carmel freed.

“I really want to hope that [Netanyahu] puts people’s lives in first priority,” ahead of the war, Dickman told CBS News.

CBS News correspondent Imtiaz Tyab contributed to this report.

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