In an unprecedented move, more than fifty members of the US Congress sign a letter, asking President Barack Obama to put pressure on Israel to end the crippling siege of the Gaza Strip.
The letter, which was the initiative of Democrat Representatives Jim McDermott from Washington and Keith Ellison from Minnesota, calls on Obama to address international concerns over the post-war humanitarian situation in Gaza, which has been further worsened by a long-imposed Israeli blockade.
“The unabated suffering of Gazan civilians highlights the urgency of reaching a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and we ask you to press for immediate relief for the citizens of Gaza as an urgent component of your broader Middle East peace efforts,” the letter urged.
“The current blockade has severely impeded the ability of aid agencies to do their work to relieve suffering,” it added.
The authors went on to add that Tel Aviv's refusal to allow building materials into the Strip is preventing the reconstruction of Gaza's infrastructure, which was severely damaged last year when Israel launched a bitter three-week attack on the Palestinian territory.
The war on Gaza killed nearly 1400 Palestinians, wounded thousands of others, displaced 60,800 civilians, seriously damaged 17,000 homes and triggered a critical humanitarian crisis.
“There is also a concern that unrepaired sewage treatment plants will overflow and damage surrounding property and water resources,” the authors wrote, noting that the humanitarian and political consequences of a continued blockade would be “disastrous.”
Israel's stranglehold on Gaza has made as much as 80% of Gazan residents dependent on aid from the United Nations. The blockade has led to the collapse of 90% of Gazan businesses, and as a result, more than one million people are now living in abject poverty.