Tuesday, February 24, 2009
US Congressmen Baird & Ellison: deeply affected by conditions in Gaza
February 19th 2009
Brian Views Destruction in Gaza – Calls for Immediate Relief and Change in Policy
Washington, D.C. – Two members of Congress, Brian Baird (D-WA-03), and Keith Ellison, (D-MN-05), visited Gaza on Thursday to view firsthand the destruction from recent Israeli air and ground attacks and to meet with international and local relief agencies. This visit, which did not have the official sanction of the Obama Administration, is the first time anyone from the U.S. government has entered Gaza in more than three years.
Prior to Gaza, both Congressmen met with the chief negotiator of the Palestinian Authority, Dr. Saeb Erekat, as well as with Dr. Riad Malki Foreign Minister of the Palestinian Authority. On Friday, Baird and Ellison will tour the Israeli towns of Sderot and Ashkelon, which have been the target of numerous rockets before and throughout the recent attacks launched from within the Gaza strip.
“Staff from the U.S. State Department advised us of security concerns for our own safety, and we are well aware of the sensitive political issues involved in this visit,” said both Congressmen in an official release.
“We believe it is important to be here to see what happened for ourselves, to meet with people who have been affected, and to express our concern and support,” said Congressman Baird.
“We also want to better understand what can and must be done to recover from the destruction, address the underlying issues, and work toward a lasting, just and peaceful resolution,” added Congressman Ellison.
After spending the day visiting various locations within Gaza and meeting with civilians and relief workers, Baird and Ellison were deeply affected by what they had seen and heard.
“The stories about the children affected me the most,” said Ellison. “No parent, or anyone who cares for kids, can remain unmoved by what Brian and I saw here.”
“The amount of physical destruction and the depth of human suffering here is staggering” said Baird, “Entire neighborhoods have been destroyed, schools completely leveled, fundamental water, sewer, and electricity facilities hit and relief agencies heavily damaged. The personal stories of children being killed in their homes or schools, entire families wiped out, and relief workers prevented from evacuating the wounded are heart wrenching – what went on here, and what is continuing to go on, is shocking and troubling beyond words.”
Congressman Baird interviews the principal of the destroyed American School in Gaza
WHY was this school purposefully destroyed?