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Office Hours: Are you in favor of a ceasefire in Gaza?
As Palestinian deaths in Gaza mount, so do demands for a ceasefire. But many fear that Hamas would only use it to regroup and rearm.
I don’t recall an issue that has as sharply divided the left in America in recent years as whether the U.S. should support a ceasefire in Gaza.
More than 11,100 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza since October 7, including more than 4,500 children — surpassing the number of children killed in conflict zones around the world each year since 2019, according to Save the Children.
The World Health Organization says that Gaza’s large Al-Shifa Hospital can no longer function because of a lack of electricity, fuel, and water. Other Gaza hospitals have shut down. Hamas accuses Israel of targeting health facilities to cut off a lifeline for residents. Israel alleges that Hamas uses hospitals to conceal their bases, while the injured and displaced living on the grounds act as human shields.
Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), have joined 15 other House Democrats in calling for an immediate ceasefire. In recent days, demonstrations demanding a ceasefire have occurred in Chicago, Oakland, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and Manhattan.
But is a ceasefire possible with Hamas — an organization committed to the destruction of Israel?
Bernie Sanders says a ceasefire with Hamas is impossible because Hamas wants “permanent war and the destruction of Israel” and would not abide by a ceasefire. He believes that instead of a ceasefire, Israel should stop bombing and allow for an “extended” humanitarian pause to allow the United Nations to rush in humanitarian aid and for hostage negotiations to continue.
President Biden similarly argues against a ceasefire but favors a pause to make time for more Palestinians to move out of harm’s way and for more food, water, fuel, and medical supplies to enter into Gaza.
Both a ceasefire and a humanitarian pause would involve a cessation of hostilities, but a humanitarian pause is temporary, with the specific purpose of improving the humanitarian situation. A ceasefire is meant to last for a more extended time, to encourage the start of peace talks or other arrangements that deal with an underlying conflict. Much more than a pause, a ceasefire cements the situation on the ground until it is violated.
So, today’s Office Hours question: Are you in favor of a ceasefire in Gaza?