Daily Israel Report

Muslim Congressman in Gaza, Tweets ‘Disaster Stories’ Back Home

The first Muslim in Congress visited Gaza, being careful to avoid Hamas and vowing to prove to colleagues the “disaster caused by Israel.”
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 4/6/2010, 12:46 PM / Last Update: 4/6/2010, 1:58 PM

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Mn.), the first Muslim in the U.S. Congress, has completed a tour of Gaza, where he avoided Hamas officials and twitted back home headlines of heart-breaking crises allegedly caused by Israel.

He promised Gaza students and human rights groups that he will try to convince fellow legislators that the partial Israeli ban on commercial traffic is causing a disaster for the local economy.  

Although the Gaza economy has been declining since the Second Intifada, also known as the Oslo War, and has sunk further following the expulsion of Jews from the area in 2005, the Associated Press told its readers, “The territory under Hamas rule was devastated by last year's Israeli offensive against the militant group. A blockade meant to cut off weapons smuggling has further weakened the economy of the impoverished Strip.”

Gilad Shalit not Mentioned
During his one-day tour, rhe Congressman said that he did not discuss the plight of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit, held in captivity for nearly four years without visits from the International Red Cross. His condition is not known.

Hamas said it was not aware of Ellison’s visit, but Gaza City officials arranged a protest by dozens of orphans, demanding an end to the partial blockade Israel placed on Gaza to prevent smuggling of weapons for terrorists.

Egypt also has blockade Gaza at the border, but Ellison called only for an end to the Israeli measures, which he called “mass punishment.”

Ellison used Twitter to send back home messages implying Israeli blame for individual crises among Arabs, despite Israel’s admitting dozens of Gaza Arab into Israeli hospitals every month,

“Hamza, 2, w/ brain tumor. Medical treatment slowed, delayed b/o blockade on Gaza. Parents very worried. HRW says 27 dies b/o medical delays,” read one of Ellison's Twitter messages.