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No. 2 Senate Democrat says ‘killing has to stop’ in Gaza


By Aileen Graef and Michelle Shen, CNN

(CNN) — Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, said Sunday that the killing of innocent people in Gaza “has to stop” and that the United States needs to focus on securing a ceasefire and, eventually, an end to the conflict.

“This killing has to stop of the innocent people there. I certainly understand Israel’s right to exist, its right to defend itself and what the Hamas terrorists did on October 7 – the outrageous, atrocious conduct on their part. But it’s reached a point where we have over 25,000 innocent people who have been killed in the process of rooting out Hamas, and it appears it’s gone from bad to worse,” Durbin told CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union.”

On Friday, more than 100 people were killed in northern Gaza after Israeli troops opened fire, triggering panic as hungry Palestinians were gathering around food aid trucks. Many of the victims died when they were run over by trucks amid the panic, according to a witness account. More than 30,000 people have been killed in Gaza since Israel’s war with Hamas began in October, according to the health ministry in Gaza. And more than a half a million people in the enclave are on the brink of famine, according to United Nations agencies.

Durbin said he agreed with comments made by Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut in a recent interview with The Washington Post.

“If this is what the war continues to look like, with people being shot and trampled as they desperately try to get their hands on one of a small number of food and flour trucks that’s entering Gaza, it is not in the U.S. interest to continue to be part of that,” Murphy said.

On Saturday, the United States and Jordan air-dropped humanitarian aid into Gaza. The US Central Command said 38,000 meals were dropped along the Gaza coastline.

Durbin said he supports the airdrops of food but said it’s “not going to solve the problem.” He said President Joe Biden and the US need to push for a ceasefire and humanitarian response as quickly as possible.

“Secondly, we have to have a plan for ending this conflict, and I’m afraid [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu’s approach toward a two-state solution doesn’t give us much hope for that. But those are the things I would urge the president to bring to the attention of our friends in Israel and those we have worked with,” Durbin said.

Durbin’s comments came a day after news that Israelis have “basically accepted” a six-week ceasefire proposal in Gaza, according to a senior Biden administration official. Hamas wants Israel to agree to a permanent ceasefire, a highly placed diplomatic source told CNN, as talks resumed in Cairo on Sunday.

“We’re trying to work out a deal between Israel and Hamas on the hostages being returned and an immediate ceasefire in Gaza for at least the next six weeks and to allow the surge of aid to the Gaza Strip,” Biden said Friday at the White House.

Durbin also spoke about last week’s Democratic presidential primary in Michigan, which Biden won comfortably but where an effort led by Arab American activists to vote “uncommitted” earned the support of more than 100,000 voters.

Durbin told Bash he could “understand” the protest vote, saying it reflected “a legitimate concern about the humanitarian crisis their people face.”

Speaking on domestic issues, Durbin, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, said the Supreme Court’s timeline for considering the case of presidential immunity is a “disappointment.”

“Their delay in considering this critical issue, this timely issue, is going to delay the resolution of these cases by months at least and perhaps beyond the election. I think that is a disappointment,” he said.

The Supreme Court agreed Wednesday to decide whether Donald Trump may claim immunity in special counsel Jack Smith’s election subversion case, adding another explosive appeal from the former president to its docket and further delaying his federal trial.

The court expedited the case and will hear arguments the week of April 22.

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