Thursday, February 19, 2009
"US Senator John Kerry and two congressmen pay a rare visit to war-torn Gaza while upholding US policies toward the ruler of the territory.
Democratic Senator John Kerry and Democratic representatives Brian Baird and Keith Ellison were in Gaza on Thursday.
The impoverished and densely-populated territory was ravaged by Israel's recent military offensive which left at least 1,330 Palestinians dead, thousands injured and hundreds of thousands displaced.
Before crossing over to the Palestinian land, Senator Kerry told reporters that his visit would not reflect a change in Washington policy toward the Gaza ruler -- the Hamas movement.
"(It) does not indicate any shift whatsoever with respect to Hamas," said Kerry, who heads the Senate's powerful foreign relations committee. "What it indicates is our effort to listen and to learn."....
Earlier, congressmen Baird and Ellison visited Izzbet Abed Rabbo, a community in northern Gaza that was hit hard during the Israeli war.
The congressmen will not meet with Hamas officials during their visits, AFP reported. The visits are the first such trips since June 2007. "