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VP Harris: Suffering in Gaza ‘devastating’; Israel must do more to protect civilians

US Vice President Kamala Harris engaged in a speed round of diplomatic talks with Arab leaders on Saturday where she focused on shaping the outlook for a post-conflict Gaza, while calling on Israel to do more to protect Palestinian civilians from the “devastating” bombardment.

Underlining the public differences between the US and Israel over post-war Gaza, she said the Palestinian Authority should ultimately govern the enclave, even as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in Israel that the PA seeks Israel’s demise and cannot be allowed to rule the Strip.

Harris made a hastily planned trip to the United Arab Emirates as the top American representative at the UN climate conference but the Israel-Hamas war was a main objective of her visit. She met with leaders of the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Jordan and spoke by phone with Qatar’s emir.

Her efforts to focus on what Gaza will look like once the fighting ends played out against the backdrop of an overpowering attack that Israel has unleashed on the crowded southern area of the territory since fighting resumed Friday morning, after a weeklong truce collapsed when Hamas refused to release 15 women and two children as part of the ceasefire agreement and resumed rocket fire toward Israel.

“As Israel defends itself, it matters how. The United States is unequivocal: International humanitarian law must be respected,” Harris said after her meetings. “Too many innocent Palestinians have been killed. Frankly, the scale of civilian suffering and the images and videos coming from Gaza are devastating.’’

She added that as Israel “pursues its military objectives in Gaza, we believe Israel must do more to protect innocent civilians.”

Dubai is the first Arab nation to host an annual UN environmental gathering where world leaders discuss ways to best slow the effects of climate change. Harris said she had “productive” talks on the summit sidelines with Middle Eastern leaders.

She said she and US President Joe Biden have repeatedly noted the brutality of the Hamas attack against Israel on October 7 that triggered the war, in which Palestinian terrorists killed some 1,200 people and took around 240 hostage.

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