Biden Marks Ramadan, Saying the War Has Inflicted ‘Terrible Suffering’ on Gazans

By John Mercury March 11, 2024

President Biden, marking the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, said he would press for a cease-fire in Gaza and more humanitarian aid for the territory, and noted that many American Muslims were grieving for family members killed there.

The war has inflicted “terrible suffering” on the Palestinian people, Mr. Biden said in the statement, released Sunday night, adding that “more than 30,000 Palestinians have been killed, most of them civilians, including thousands of children.” In addition, nearly two million people have been displaced and need food, water and shelter, he said.

Mr. Biden’s comments were part of a tradition of U.S. presidential statements marking religious holidays, but they carried additional political significance given many Arab Americans’ opposition to U.S. support for Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza.

In one measure of the war’s potential electoral significance, more than 100,000 voters in Michigan’s Democratic primary last month registered their ballot as “uncommitted.” That signaled discontent over the war among Arab Americans, as well as some young voters and progressives, in a battleground state.

Mr. Biden noted that the United States was carrying out airdrops of aid and reiterated a U.S. commitment to building a temporary pier on Gaza’s coast, as well as working with Israel to expand deliveries of aid by land.

Since Oct. 7, when Hamas led an attack on Israel in which the authorities there say around 1,200 people were killed, the number of trucks entering Gaza daily with food and other humanitarian aid has dropped by around 80 percent, according to U.N. data.

“The United States will continue working nonstop to establish an immediate and sustained cease-fire for at least six weeks as part of a deal that releases hostages,” Mr. Biden said, referring to around 100 hostages seized on Oct. 7 who the Israeli authorities say remain in captivity in Gaza.

“We will continue building toward a long-term future of stability, security, and peace,” he said in the statement, which also decried an “appalling resurgence of hate and violence toward Muslim Americans.”


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