The letter was the initiative of Representatives Jim McDermott from Washington and Keith Ellison from Minnesota, both of whom are Democrats. Ellison is the first Muslim congressman.
McDermott and Ellison wrote that they understand the threats facing Israel and the ongoing Hamas terror activities against Israeli citizens but that "this concern must be addressed without resulting in the de facto collective punishment of the Palestinian residents of the Gaza Strip."
"We ask you to press for immediate relief for the citizens of Gaza as an urgent component of your broader Middle East peace efforts," they wrote, adding that the blockade has hampered the ability of aid agencies to do their work in Gaza.
The congressmen urged Obama to pressure Israel to ease the movement of people in and out of Gaza, especially students, the sick, aid workers, journalists and those with family concerns, and also to allow the import of building materials to rebuild houses.
Israel has warned that such materials would be used to restore Hamas infrastructure and not civilian homes.
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