WASHINGTON - Sixty US lawmakers have urged Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to give emergency funds to the UN relief agency for Palestinian refugees to help rebuild the Gaza Strip after its bombardment by Israel.
In a letter dated Tuesday, the House Democrats also said Israel should allow critically ill patients to be transported out of Gaza and into Israel, the West Bank and Jordan for treatment.
"We therefore urge you to express this concern directly to Israeli government officials," they said in the letter.
The representatives focused in their letter on worries about the flow of food and humanitarian goods into Gaza as well as medical services and reconstruction of infrastructure destroyed by Israeli strikes.
They noted that the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) estimated financial needs of nearly 350 million dollars to rebuild their own infrastructure and keep providing essential services to the Palestinians in Gaza.
"Failure to address this humanitarian emergency has the potential to produce a crisis of even more unspeakable proportions. We therefore respectfully request that the State Department release emergency funds to UNRWA for reconstruction and humanitarian assistance," the lawmakers said.
They also asked that Clinton direct her staff to provide, no later than February 13, a list of "actions taken to date and the strategy you will pursue to address the humanitarian crisis."
"With the ceasefire now in effect, it is critical that the United States play a leading role in alleviating the suffering of civilians in Gaza and we respectfully urge your assistance in this task," they said.