Recently returned from a trip to Gaza, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) told a packed House conference room earlier today that “I only have one message for you, just one, and that is: The crossings must open.”
The crossings have to open for two reasons. One is, that when we open up the crossings we can cut down on the traffic in the tunnels, and therefore make sure that nothing goes through those tunnels that endangers Israeli security — or, by the way, Gazan security, because some of these rockets misfire and land in Gaza — but also to address the desperate humanitarian conditions that we saw in Gaza…We saw the industrial infrastructure bashed to the ground. We saw the American International School — and we actually have a tape on that — bashed to the ground.
Ellison said that, by creating a black market for basic goods, keeping the crossings closed boosted outlaw elements in Gaza who also controlled the tunnel traffic, which also includes weapons.
Ellison traveled to Israel and the Palestinian territories with his Congressional colleague Rep. Brian Baird (D-WA). The two spoke along with Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ), who visited Gaza separately, and Daniel Levy at an event sponsored by the New America Foundation and moderated by Steve Clemons, which I attended.
Rep. Baird noted that it was a challenge to “do validity and honesty to what we have seen and experienced, without at the same time being perceived, as is easy to do, as…taking one side against the other. There are clearly, in my judgment, wrongs on both sides, but that doesn’t necessarily justify one action or another…We witnessed destroyed schools, destroyed hospitals, an entire industrial area that had been leveled.” Baird also noted that the Congressmen had visited nearby Sderot, a frequent target of Hamas rocket attacks, which Baird called “unacceptable.” Read more