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Reps urge Clinton to protect U.S. citizens on Gaza flotilla

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WASHINGTON (JTA) — Six Democratic lawmakers urged U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to ensure the safety of the American citizens who join  the Gaza flotilla.

U.S. Reps. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), William Clay (D-Mo.), Sam Farr (D-Calif.), Bob Filner (D-Calif.) and Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) signed a letter to Clinton last Friday expressing their concern for the safety of the passengers who will be aboard the U.S. ship The Audacity of Hope. Filner is Jewish.

"We request that you do everything in your power to work with the Israeli government to ensure the safety of the U.S. citizens on board," they wrote.

At least 36 Americans are set to travel with the flotilla.

Their concern, the letter said, stems from Israeli actions taken against the Gaza flotilla in May 2010, in which nine civilians, including one American, were killed and others injured during a confrontation.

"We wholeheartedly support Israel’s right, and indeed its duty, to protect its citizens from security threats," the letter said. "The measures it uses to do so, as in the case with any other nation, must conform to international humanitarian and human rights law. We are encouraged that The Audacity of Hope organizers have stated that their cargo ‘is open to international inspection’ and that they ‘are fully committed to nonviolence and the tenets of international law.’ "

Separately, Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) posted an appeal to the State Dept. to "ensure protection to the participants" in the flotilla on the website of J Street, a liberal pro-Israel group.

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