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Dick Durbin first U.S. senator to call for Gaza ceasefire, tied to Hamas' release of hostages

Israeli forces encircle Gaza as civilian casualties mount
Israeli forces encircle Gaza as civilian casualties mount 02:59

CHICAGO (CBS) -- U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) on Thursday became the first U.S. senator to call for a ceasefire in Gaza amid the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas, but stipulated it must start with the release of all hostages.

Asked by CNN's Poppy Harlow on Friday if a ceasefire is needed in the war between Israel and Gaza, Durbin said, "I think it is, at least in the context of both sides agreeing."

"For example, the release of those who have been kidnapped should be part of this – immediate release. That should be the beginning of it," he said. "An effort should be made to engage in conversation between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Let's face it. This has gone on for decades. Whatever the rationale from the beginning, it has now reached an intolerable level. We need to have a resolution in the Middle East that gives some promise for the future."

Durbin's call comes as the Israeli Defense Force said it has encircled Gaza City, and is now targeting Hamas' underground infrastructure. The Israeli military said many terrorists have been killed.

Meantime, the United Nations is warning Israel that strikes against the Jabalia refugee camp could lead to war crimes.               

Israeli ground troops were closing in Thursday on Hamas strongholds, fighting militants on the edges of Gaza City. Israel has warned civilians in Gaza to head south. Those who don't are paying a heavy price. Thousands have died amidst massive destruction.

Israel's military said Hamas is holding more hostages than they'd originally calculated; now raising the number to 242, including dozens of children. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will be back in Israel on Friday, working on their release.

"We will focus as well on steps that need to be taken to protect civilians, who are in a crossfire of Hamas' making, and we want to look at concrete steps that can be taken to better protect them," he said.

President Joe Biden has shown staunch support for Israel, but he's now calling for a humanitarian pause to get hostages out and to provide aid to civilians

The conflict has created a divide in Congress. New House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-Louisiana) has promised quick action on an Israel aid package.

"We're going to do that in short order; and it provides Israel the aid it needs to defend itself, free its hostages, and eradicate Hamas," he said.

But Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is calling the House Republicans' standalone Israel aid proposal a "joke" and "woefully inadequate."

Schumer urged House Speaker Mike Johnson to "quickly change course ... because this stunningly unserious proposal is not going to be the answer." 

"It's not going anywhere. As I said, it's dead almost before it's born," Schumer said.

Biden has said he would veto any Israel-only aid package, demanding more military support for both Ukraine and Taiwan in addition to Israel.

Meantime, dozens of Americans trapped in Gaza since the war began are finally making their way home. The White House said more than 70 Americans who were stuck in Gaza were able to cross into Egypt on Thursday. Palestinians with dual citizenship also have been allowed to exit through Rafah Gate into Egypt, while trucks enter with urgently needed humanitarian aid.

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