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Kamala Harris calls for 'immediate ceasefire', more aid convoys to Gaza

The US Vice President's comments come as President Joe Biden refuses to demand ceasefire
US Vice President Kamala Harris speaks at the Edmund Pettus Bridge during an event to commemorate the 59th anniversary of "Bloody Sunday" in Selma, Alabama, on 3 March (AFP/Saul Loeb)

US Vice President Kamala Harris has called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and pressed Israel to increase the flow of aid to ease what she called "inhumane" conditions and a "humanitarian catastrophe" among the Palestinian people.

Harris's comments were among the sharpest yet by a senior leader of the US government calling for Israel to alleviate the conditions in Gaza, where more than 30,000 people have been killed since 7 October. 

"What we are seeing every day in Gaza is a tragedy," Harris said.

The vice president, who was speaking at an event in Selma, Alabama, to commemorate the anniversary of "Bloody Sunday", when state troopers beat peaceful protesters, urged Hamas to accept a deal to release captives that would kickstart a 6-week ceasefire and allow more aid to flow.

"People in Gaza are starving. The conditions are inhumane and our common humanity compels us to act," Harris said.

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Harris's comments come several days after an Israeli attack on an aid convoy killed more than a hundred people in Gaza City.

The Israeli army, meanwhile, said it did not strike the convoy and that most deaths were due to a stampede.

"We saw hungry desperate people approach aid trucks, simply trying to secure food for their families, after weeks of nearly no aid reaching northern Gaza," Harris said of the incident.

"And they were met with gunfire and chaos," she continued, without naming Israel as the perpetrator.

"The Israeli government must do more to significantly increase the flow of aid. No excuses."

Harris is set to meet with Israeli war cabinet member Benny Gantz at the White House on Monday, despite Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's disapproval. 

Israel boycotted Gaza ceasefire talks in Cairo on Sunday after Hamas rejected its demand for a complete list naming captives that are still alive, according to a Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

"Hamas claims its wants a ceasefire. Well, there is a deal on the table. And as we have said, Hamas needs to agree to that deal," Harris said.

"Let's get a ceasefire. Let's reunite the hostages with their families. And let's provide immediate relief to the people of Gaza."

Earlier on Sunday, the health ministry in Gaza said at least 90 Palestinians had been killed in the past 24 hours, including 14 family members whose house in the southern Rafah refugee camp had been struck.

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