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53 Dem lawmakers say US must ensure Israel, Egypt let aid into ‘occupied Gaza’

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US correspondent based in New York

Fifty-three Democratic lawmakers in the US House of Representatives have penned a letter to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken urging the Biden administration to ensure that Israel and Egypt allow humanitarian aid into the “occupied Gaza Strip.”

“The ongoing humanitarian crisis in Gaza is untenable. Ensuring that Palestinians residing in Gaza receive humanitarian aid is vital to securing the well-being of Gaza’s 2.1 million residents,” the letter spearheaded by Reps. Mark Pocan (D-WI) and Debbie Dingell (D-MI), reads.

“Securing these changes is vital to addressing the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, which has been exacerbated by the recent hostilities between Hamas and Israel that left an estimated 1.3 million Palestinians in need of humanitarian assistance.”

The lawmakers urge a “full reopening” of the Kerem Shalom and Erez crossings, controlled by Israel, along with the Rafah crossing, controlled by Egypt.

Both countries maintain a blockade over the Gaza Strip, which they say is aimed at preventing the smuggling of weapons and materials that can be used to arm the Hamas terror group that rules the coastal enclave.

Critics say the blockade is excessive and has helped bring the Gazan economy to its knees.

The dovish Middle East lobby J Street, which helped organize the letter, commends the effort, noting that “people in Gaza currently have severely limited access to clean water, food, medicine and electricity. Humanitarian assistance is urgently needed, and the administration must do all that it can to ensure that it is delivered as soon as possible.”

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