U.S. lawmakers urge Gaza humanitarian action


WASHINGTON (JTA) — Sixty members of the U.S. House of Representatives called for "immediate action" to address the "humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip."

"With the cease-fire now in effect, it is critical that the United States play a leading role in alleviating the suffering of civilians in Gaza and we respectfully urge your assistance in this task," states the letter from the congressional group to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The members of Congress say that the border crossings into Gaza must be opened to allow the importing of construction materials and fuel, and they urge Clinton to ask the Israeli government to allow critically ill patients to be transported out of Gaza to receive medical care.

The letter also requests that the State Department release emergency funds to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for reconstruction and humanitarian assistance. In addition, the lawmakers ask that the State Department share the actions it has taken and its future strategy to address the Gaza humanitarian situation by Feb. 13.

Reps. Lois Capps (D-Calif.), John Olver (D-Mass.) and Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) initiated the letter. Among the signatories were two Jewish members of Congress, Reps. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) and Bob Filner (D-Calif.).

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