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Ocasio-Cortez, in House Speech, Accuses Israel of ‘Genocide’

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez warned on Friday that Israel’s blockade of Gaza had put the territory on the brink of severe famine, saying publicly for the first time that the nation’s wartime actions amounted to an “unfolding genocide.”

In a speech on the House floor, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, a New York Democrat, forcefully called on President Biden to cut off U.S. military aid to Israel unless and until it begins to allow the free flow of humanitarian assistance into the Gaza Strip.

“If you want to know what an unfolding genocide looks like, open your eyes,” she said. “It looks like the forced famine of 1.1 million innocents. It looks like thousands of children eating grass as their bodies consume themselves, while trucks of food are slowed and halted just miles away.”

The comments were a sharp rhetorical escalation by Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, the de facto leader of the Democratic Party’s left wing, and they illustrated the intense pressure buffeting party officials as they grapple with how to respond to Israel’s war tactics and the deepening humanitarian crisis.

Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, defying party leaders, has been a proponent of a permanent cease-fire since Hamas’s deadly attack on Israel on Oct. 7, and has called for putting conditions on American military aid to Israel. But she had resisted describing the ensuing war, which has killed 30,000 Gazans and left the territory in ruins, as a genocide.

Israel has firmly denied that the term applies, and Ms. Ocasio-Cortez indicated in January that she was waiting for the International Court of Justice to render an opinion on a legal designation. Privately, she has expressed concerns to some allies that the highly contentious term would alienate potential supporters of a cease-fire.

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