Kamala Harris Urges Ceasefire, More Aid At Meeting With Israeli War Cabinet Member


(MENAFN- IANS) Washington, March 5 (IANS) US Vice President Kamala Harris has met with a member of Israel's cabinet prosecuting the war in Gaza, urging an immediate ceasefire and the increase and safe distribution of humanitarian assistance to Palestinian civilians in need.

Harris' meeting with Benny Gantz, former Israeli defence minister and deputy prime minister, came on Monday -- one day after she gave what appeared to be the most strongly-worded call to date from the Joe Biden administration for an immediate ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, Xinhua news agency reported.

"The Vice President discussed the urgency of achieving a hostage deal and welcomed Israel's constructive approach to the hostage talks," said a readout of the meeting issued by the White House.

"She called on Hamas to accept the terms on the table whereby the release of hostages would result in an immediate six-week ceasefire," it added.

Harris also "expressed her deep concern about the humanitarian conditions in Gaza and the recent horrific tragedy around an aid convoy in northern Gaza", the readout said, referring to an incident Thursday that killed scores of Palestinians trying to get food from an aid convoy in Gaza City. As a result, the civilian death toll since Israel launched its offensive in Gaza surpassed 30,000.

The Israeli military said on Sunday that most of those killed in the chaotic event died from a stampede, while Palestinian-run local health authorities said those sent to hospitals were shot by large-calibre ammunition.

During her meeting with Gantz, Harris "urged Israel to take additional measures in cooperation with the United States and international partners to increase the flow of humanitarian assistance into Gaza and ensure its safe distribution to those in need", the readout said.

Gantz's visit came amid a growing rift between President Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the latter's handling of the war. Gantz is a political opponent of Netanyahu, but the two have reached a deal whereby they agree to share power in planning the military operation against Hamas.

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