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Duckworth brings Gaza medical team’s pleas directly to White House

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Tammy Duckworth

Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) delivered a letter to the White House on Sunday calling on President Joe Biden to use his full influence to secure the safe exit of American and international medical personnel trapped in Gaza in anticipation of an escalating military campaign in Rafah.

The letter, shared with POLITICO, was written by Dr. Adam Hamawy, a U.S. Army combat surgeon who Duckworth credits with saving her life after she was shot down in Iraq in 2004. Hamawy is among the group of World Health Organization-coordinated doctors and aid workers stranded in Gaza and unable to fully evacuate.

“On May 13, in violation of international law, our team of medical professionals were denied exit by Israel,” Hamawy writes. “When the call finally came to evacuate only U.S. citizens, I chose to stay. As a doctor, I could not, in good conscience, leave my team behind.”

While they planned to rotate out after two weeks, Hamawy says Israeli authorities have blocked their exit from Rafah, trapping them inside Gaza. Israeli forces took control of the Palestinian side of the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt on May 7, setting the stage for what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has promised will be a major military offensive against Hamas in the southern city — though a large contingent of civilians remain.

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