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Rep. Ellison: Israeli blockade helping Hamas

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U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., says both sides of the recent confrontation in the Middle East need to rethink their approach to an Israeli blockade of Gaza.

Nine people were killed in the raid on a flotilla attempting to run the blockade. Ellison said Israeli raiders should have used restraint, and flotilla passengers needed to be cautious around armed boarders.

But Ellison said the controversy over the confrontation begs a larger question over the blockade itself. The Minnesota Democrat said he thinks the blockade is helping the militant Hamas organization with trade through underground tunnels.

"They charge a tax to use use the tunnels which means they get enriched through the tunnel economy, and don't get anything if goods travel through the normal crossings between Israel and Gaza," Ellison said. "In my opinion, it's strengthening Hamas and weakening the average resident of Gaza."

Ellison has toured Gaza twice in recent years. He is one of two Muslim members of Congress, but grew up in Detroit as a Catholic.