WASHINGTON, May 16 – Following weeks of violence in Gaza, during which roughly 100 Palestinians have been killed and some 10,000 wounded by Israeli snipers, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and 12 of his Democratic Senate colleagues called on Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to "do more to alleviate the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip."
"The territory’s lack of power, clean water, adequate medical care and other necessities not only exacerbates the hardships faced by Gaza’s population, but redounds to the benefit of extremist groups who use this deprivation and despair to incite violence against Israel," the senators wrote in a letter to Pompeo last Friday.
"The political and security challenges in Gaza are formidable, but support for the basic human rights of its people must not be conditioned on progress on those fronts. For the sake of Israelis and Palestinians alike, the United States must act urgently to help relieve the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip. We stand ready to work with you on this important matter."
The senators suggested that the United States restore its funding of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), encourage the easing of restrictions on the movement of people, goods and equipment in and out of the territory, and support proposals to build Gaza’s economy through bold initiatives such as the proposed Gaza Seaport.
Sanders, who condemned the violence yesterday, added in a statement: "In light of yesterday’s horrific violence in Gaza, in which more than 50 Palestinians were killed and more than 2,000 were wounded by Israeli snipers, it’s important to understand the desperate situation out of which these protests have arisen. That is why I, along with 12 of my Senate colleagues, have sent a letter to the secretary of state making clear that the United States must play a leading role in addressing the situation.”
In addition to Sanders, the letter was signed by Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Thomas Carper (D-Del.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and Edward Markey (D-Mass.).
To read the letter, click here.