US lawmakers push for Gaza ceasefire after Al-Rashid Street aid massacre

US lawmakers push for Gaza ceasefire after Al-Rashid Street aid massacre
Several lawmakers in Congress on Thursday said the incident showed the urgency of getting more aid into the besieged strip and the necessity for a ceasefire.
4 min read
01 March, 2024
US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin said that 21,000 precision guided munitions had been provided to Israel since the start of the war [GETTY]

US lawmakers in Congress ramped up calls for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas on Thursday after more than 100 Palestinians were killed when Israeli forces opened fire on a crowd collecting aid near Gaza City.

Several politicians from the governing Democrat Party said the massacre, in which 112 Palestinians were killed and over 700 wounded on Al Rashid Street in north Gaza, showed that bringing greater quantities of aid into the war-battered Strip must be prioritised by US diplomats.

The US administration has maintained its full-fledged support of Israel’s war on Gaza, despite increasing calls at home for an end to the war and support for Palestinians as the death toll surges to over 30,000 killed.

During an election primary in Michigan on Tuesday, more than 100,000 people cast protest votes in an orchestrated message to President Joe Biden over his support for Israel.

In Congress on Thursday Democrat Patty Murray said that Israel "must change course".

"The collective punishment in Gaza has got to stop, and Israel must do more to protect civilian life," she said.

"We need a mutually agreed upon ceasefire and end [to] the fighting as soon as possible; we need the return of all hostages by Hamas, and we need a massive surge in humanitarian aid."

Echoing Murray's comments, Democrat Greg Landsman for Ohio said that food and water must reach those in need to avert a repeat horror like Thursday's massacre.

"If those areas have all of the food and medicine and water and gas that folks need, you will avoid tragic, gut-wrenching events like today," he said.

He added that "diplomatic leaders got to push and push and push on all sides to bring this war to an end".

At a vigil for Aaron Bushnell in Portland - one of many that took place across the US this week in his memory - armed forces veterans took turns to burn their uniforms in a show of solidarity for the US airman who self-immolated outside the Israeli embassy in Washington DC in…

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The US is Israel's closest ally and has been the only nation to veto a ceasefire vote at the United Nations Security Council three times since the outbreak of war in October.

President Biden said on Thursday that there were conflicting accounts of what happened when what should have been a food collection for desperate Palestinians turned into mass casualties.

When asked by reporters, Biden said that his administration was still "checking that out".

"There’s two competing versions of what happened," he said. "I don’t have an answer yet."

The Israeli army said it is investigating the incident, where witnesses, rights groups, and even the military have said Israeli forces shot at civilians. After initially denying knowledge of the incident, an army source quoted by Israeli media said they had shot at the crowd after feeling endangered.

Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor said on Friday that its investigations into the incident showed that Israeli forces were responsible for firing at Palestinians.

Washington has been sending billion-dollar aid packages, including arms and military equipment, to Tel Aviv to support its war efforts, despite concerns from international human rights lawyers that Israeli forces could be committing war crimes in Gaza.

Speaking to Congress on Thursday Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin said that 21,000 precision guided munitions had been provided to Israel since the start of the war.

Over the course of the war, progressives in America have berated the president for not taking a harder line with Israel as its forces have decimated civilian infrastructure, raided hospitals, and triggered a humanitarian disaster in the impoverished enclave.

In addition, with a US election taking place later this year, the Israel-Gaza war is a hot topic for parties hoping to win the votes of some 3.7 million Arab Americans.

The protest vote in Democrat-leaning Michigan earlier this week was orchestrated by Rashida Tlaib, who is the only Palestinian-American lawmaker in Congress and has been vociferous in her criticism of her party’s stance on the war.

Republican Party opposition politicians have repeatedly attempted to censure Tlaib over her vocal support for Palestinian rights and criticism of Israeli policies.