The leader of the U.S. Senate called Thursday for Israel to hold new elections in the most strident criticism yet by a senior American official of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's handling of the war in Gaza.

The rebuke from Chuck Schumer, the highest-ranking elected Jewish American in history, came amid increased pressure from U.S. President Joe Biden over the mounting death toll in the conflict, sparked by the Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas militants.

"As a democracy, Israel has the right to choose its own leaders, and we should let the chips fall where they may. But the important thing is that Israelis are given a choice," said Schumer, the head of the chamber's Democratic majority, without suggesting a timeline for a vote.