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Congressmen urge stepped-up efforts on Gaza aid

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Three U.S. congressmen called for greater efforts to deliver humanitarian supplies to the Gaza Strip.

Reps. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), Brian Baird (D-Wash.) and Rush Holt (D-N.J.), all of whom visited Gaza in recent weeks, said that Israel and the United States are not doing enough to facilitate the delivery of food and other supplies to Palestinians affected by the recent war in Gaza.

Ellison, the first Muslim elected to the U.S. House, said the crossings from Israel to Gaza must open, which would cut down on the smuggling through tunnels from Egypt into Gaza.

“The United States is not doing enough,” Holt said, adding that the United States also could to more to stop the rockets coming from Gaza into Sderot.

Speaking Thursday at a Capitol Hill event sponsored by the New America Foundation, all three lawmakers said they were trying to take the middle ground.

Baird said that their comments, while perhaps critical of Israel, should not be seen as “picking one side against the other."

“Both Keith and I do not see what we’ve done as in any way anti-Israel,” Baird said. “I don’t agree with the military strategy on the ground, I think far too much was destroyed, but I have good friends that criticize me and I learn from that.”

“In Israel it’s OK to talk about this stuff,” Ellison added. “Only here does a politician have to fear derision and attack for saying what is obvious.”

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