Israel’s war in Gaza has killed more than 10,000 Palestinians, including more than 4,000 children, according to the Gaza health ministry. In one month, Israel has imposed a total siege of the densely packed territory, carried out relentless airstrikes and artillery, and cut off electricity and water to the 2.3 million people who live there.
Israel says the goal of the operation, which was launched in response to the massacre of 1,400 people by Hamas just over a month ago, was to destroy the group entirely.
As the humanitarian crisis in Gaza has worsened, calls for a ceasefire have grown. The United Nations secretary general, Antonio Guterres, warned this week that Gaza was becoming a “graveyard for children”, and that “the unfolding catastrophe makes the need for a humanitarian ceasefire more urgent with every passing hour”.
But despite the high civilian death toll, only one US Senator has called for a ceasefire.
Senate Majority Whip and Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin, a Democrat representing Illinois, said he supported a ceasefire “at least in the context of both sides agreeing”.
“For example, the release of those who have been kidnapped should be part of this – immediate release. That should be the beginning of it,” he told CNN.
Mr Durbin has not pushed other Democrats to join him, however.
“They’re taking their own approach to it, I respect it,” he told The Independent. “It’s a complicated issue, tough call. I made my decision.”
The Independent emailed every US senator to ask their position on a ceasefire in Gaza; only 20 responded, and no one besides Mr Durbin supported a ceasefire. Where possible, The Independent’s reporters asked senators in person for their comments.
Of the remaining senators, 19 have called for a humanitarian pause — a position the Biden administration also supports. At least 11 senators have come out in opposition to a ceasefire, and the remainder did not respond to The Independent’s request for comment.
The Biden administration, meanwhile, has continued to offer its unqualified support for Israel’s war, both practically and morally. President Joe Biden has asked Congress to approve $14.3bn in aid for Israel in the wake of the Hamas attack, much of which would be spent on air and missile defence.
Below are the responses from US Senators when asked whether there should be a ceasefire in Gaza. Positions outlined in other public statements are also included. This may not be comprehensive.
Have called for a ceasefire
Dick Durbin (D-Ill)
“I think it is [time for a ceasefire], at least in the context of both sides agreeing.
“For example, the release of those who have been kidnapped should be part of this – immediate release. That should be the beginning of it," he said. "An effort should be made to engage in conversation between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Let’s face it. This has gone on for decades. Whatever the rationale from the beginning, it has now reached an intolerable level. We need to have a resolution in the Middle East that gives some promise for the future.”
Have called for a humanitarian pause
Edward Markey (D-Massachusetts.) joined Tim Kaine (D-Virginia.), Mark Warner (D-Virginia), Dick Durbin (D-Illinois), Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Illinois), Peter Welch (D-Vermont), Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts), Cory Booker (D-New Jersey) Chris Van Hollen (D-Maryland.), Tina Smith (D-Minnesota), Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut), Jeanne Shaheen (D-New Hampshire), and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) via joint statement.
“[W]e join President Biden in his call for a short-term cessation of hostilities that pose high-risk to civilians, aid workers or humanitarian aid delivery in Gaza[…]
Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nevada)
“Israel has the right to defend itself and must be able to hold Hamas accountable. I will continue to support the administration’s calls for a humanitarian pause to deliver aid to innocent Palestinians, including the women and children who are being used as human shields by Hamas terrorists, and to ensure the hundreds of Israeli hostages are released. The rise of antisemitism and Islamophobia in Nevada and across the country is unacceptable, and we must condemn this violent rhetoric and keep our communities safe.”
John Hickenlooper (D-Colorado)
“Israel must defend itself against the threat of Hamas, but the toll in civilian deaths in Gaza makes clear we urgently need a humanitarian pause.”
Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) via CNN
“You’ve got to have a pause in the bombing. You’ve got to take care of the immediate disaster. Israel’s got to change its strategy. I don’t know how you can have a cease-fire — permanent cease-fire — with an organization like Hamas, which is dedicated to turmoil and chaos and destroying the state of Israel.”
Sheldon Whitehouse and Jack Reed (D-Rhode Island) via a joint statement
“We support President Biden’s call for a humanitarian pause. Pauses in military operations should be for specific purposes like providing additional humanitarian assistance for the Palestinian people or releasing the innocent hostages kidnapped by Hamas. The US is taking action to help save innocent Israeli and Palestinian lives and prevent the conflict from spreading.”
Have called for no ceasefire
Ted Budd (R-North Carolina)
“The ceasefire ended on October 7th when Hamas terrorists committed the deadliest massacre of the Jewish people since the Holocaust and the worst foreign terror attack against Americans since 9/11. This is a battle of good versus evil, period. The United States must stand shoulder to shoulder with Israel until the hostages are released and Hamas is eradicated.”
Ted Cruz (R-Texas) via X.
“The U.S. must ensure Israel has all the weapons and the time it needs to utterly destroy Hamas. Calling for premature ceasefires means siding with Hamas and absolving Hamas of murder, rape, torture, and unspeakable war crimes.”
Markwayne Mullin (R-Oklahoma) via a spokesperson.
“Senator Mullin does not support a ceasefire nor a pause in hostilities in Gaza. The Senator is extensively on the record with his support for Israel and their right to self-defense.”
Marco Rubio (R-Florida) via X.
“Israel’s ceasefire with Hamas ended on 7 October when Hamas butchered innocent civilians. There can be no “pause” in destroying savages who openly admit they will repeat what they did on 7 October as many times as necessary until Israel is destroyed”
Steve Daines (R-Montana)
John Fetterman (D-Pennsylvania) via X.
“Now is not the time to talk about a ceasefire. We must support Israel in efforts to eliminate the Hamas terrorists who slaughtered innocent men, women, and children. Hamas does not want peace, they want to destroy Israel. We can talk about a ceasefire after Hamas is neutralized.”
Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York)
“I disagree [with a ceasefire].”
Lindsay Graham (R-South Carolina) via X.
“If you had proposed a ceasefire between America and Japan four weeks after Pearl Harbor, you would’ve been run out of town. To our friends in Israel: Do whatever you have to do to defend yourselves. We are behind you 100%.”
Josh Hawley (R-Missouri)
“I think it’s a bad idea. Once Israel has cleared out Hamas, rescued their hostages, achieved their military objectives, I think we can have that discussion. But until then I’m and I think that it’s grossly premature.”
Rick Scott (R-Florida) via X.
“This is why calls for a ceasefire are insane and dangerous. Members of Hamas are terrorists who hate Israel. This disgusting terror threat must be destroyed.”
Jon Tester (D-Montana)
“I think that we need much more information.”
Tommy Tuberville (R-Alabama)
“To me, a ceasefire is a surrender. A ceasefire means Hamas gets to kill civilians without any consequences after what they did on October the seventh.”
Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi )
“We should remember amid calls for a ceasefire who the Israelis are fighting – terrorists who call the Jewish state their sworn enemy. Let’s show American resolve and stand with Israel during this fight.”
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