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Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez defended her controversial accusation of Israel committing genocide against the Palestinian people and called for cuts to US military aid until humanitarian relief can freely flow into Gaza. She expressed that her decision to use the term genocide was made with extreme seriousness, as the situation in Gaza had escalated to the point where it could no longer be ignored. Ocasio-Cortez cited the blocking of food and global humanitarian assistance to Gaza by Israeli leaders as intentional actions leading to famine among 1.1 million innocent people.

The escalating humanitarian crisis in Gaza, according to Ocasio-Cortez, has led to 32,000 people being killed since the Israel-Hamas war began, with all 2.2 million people in Gaza struggling to find enough food to eat. Half the population is on the brink of starvation, and famine is projected to hit the region between mid-March and May 2024. Ocasio-Cortez pointed out the severity of the situation, emphasizing that there is no specific targeting of Hamas in the mass famine that is affecting many innocent civilians, particularly half of whom are children.

As Ocasio-Cortez’s comments on the situation in Gaza garner attention, the Biden administration is taking a stronger stance in its dealings with Israeli officials. Vice President Kamala Harris mentioned that the US would consider consequences for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government if he proceeds with a military offensive in Rafah, where over a million people are living in challenging conditions. Harris underscored that there is a need for more humanitarian aid to reach civilians in Gaza and for efforts to secure the release of remaining hostages held by Hamas.

Negotiations between Israel and the US have resulted in an agreement on the number of Palestinian prisoners to be released for each hostage held by Hamas. A meeting between national security adviser Jake Sullivan and Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant will focus on the implementation of these agreements and the entry of aid into Gaza. However, outstanding issues, including Israeli military repositioning in Gaza, still need to be resolved. Efforts are being made to prevent a ground offensive in the Gaza Strip and find peaceful alternatives to the current crisis.

Ocasio-Cortez reiterated that the restriction of food and aid to Gaza by the Israeli government until Hamas releases hostages and disarms is unjustifiable. She emphasized that the actions of Hamas should not dictate whether innocent Palestinians, including children, have access to essential resources like food. The congresswoman condemned collective punishment and stressed the importance of distinguishing between targeting Hamas and affecting the lives of millions of innocent Palestinian civilians facing a dire humanitarian situation. Talks between US and Israeli officials continue in an effort to address the crisis in Gaza and find sustainable solutions.

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