Denouncing Use of Civilians as Human Shields By Hamas and Other Terrorist Organizationsby Representative Edward R. Royce
Posted on 2014-07-30
ROYCE. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and agree to the
concurrent resolution (H. Con. Res. 107) denouncing the use of
civilians as human shields by Hamas and other terrorist organizations
in violation of international humanitarian law, as amended.
The Clerk read the title of the concurrent resolution.
The text of the concurrent resolution is as follows: H. Con. Res. 107 Whereas the term ``human shields'' refers to the use of civilians, prisoners of war, or other noncombatants whose mere presence is designed to protect combatants and objects from attack; Whereas the use of human shields violates international humanitarian law (also referred to as the Law of War or Law of Armed Conflict); Whereas Additional Protocol I, Article 50(1) to the Geneva Convention defines ``civilian'' as, ``[a]ny person who does not belong to one of the categories of persons referred to in Article 4(A) (1), (2), (3), and (6) of the Third Convention and in Article 43 of this Protocol. In the case of doubt whether a person is a civilian, that person shall be considered a civilian.''; Whereas Additional Protocol I, Article 51(7) to the Geneva Convention states, ``[T]he presence or movement of the civilian population or individual civilians shall not be used to render certain points or areas immune from military operations, in particular in attempts to shield military objectives from attacks or to shield, favour or impede military operations. The Parties to the conflict shall not direct the movement of the civilian population or individual civilians in order to attempt to shield military objectives from attacks or to shield military operations.''; Whereas since June 15, 2014, there have been over 2,000 rockets fired by Hamas and other terrorist organizations from Gaza into Israel; Whereas Hamas has been using civilian populations as human shields by placing their missile batteries in densely populated areas and near schools, hospitals, and mosques; Whereas Israel drops leaflets, makes announcements, places phone calls and sends text messages to the Palestinian people in Gaza warning them in advance that an attack is imminent, and goes to extraordinary lengths to target only terrorist actors; Whereas Hamas has urged the residents of Gaza to ignore the Israeli warnings and to remain in their houses and has encouraged Palestinians to gather on the roofs of their homes to act as human shields; Whereas on July 23, 2014, the 46-Member UN Human Rights Council passed a resolution to form a commission of inquiry over Israel's operations in Gaza without a single mention of the indiscriminate rocket attacks by Hamas or the use of human shields, with the United States being the lone dissenting vote; Whereas public reports have cited the role of Iran and Syria in providing material support and training to Hamas and other terrorist groups carrying out rocket and mortar attacks from Gaza; Whereas throughout the summer of 2006 conflict between the State of Israel and the terrorist organization Hezbollah, Hezbollah forces utilized human shields in violation of international humanitarian law; Whereas Al-Qaeda, Al-Shabaab, Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and other foreign terrorist organizations typically use innocent civilians as human shields; Whereas the United States and Israel have cooperated on missile defense projects, including Iron Dome, David's Sling, and the Arrow Anti-Missile System, projects designed to thwart a diverse range of threats, including short-range missiles and rockets fired by non-state actors, such as Hamas; Whereas the United States has provided $235,000,000 in fiscal year 2014 for Iron Dome research, development, and production; Whereas, during the most recent rocket attacks from Gaza, Iron Dome has successfully [[Page H7075]] intercepted dozens of rockets that were launched against Israeli population centers; and Whereas 5 million Israelis are currently living under the threat of rocket attacks from Gaza: Now, therefore, be it Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That Congress-- (1) strongly condemns the use of innocent civilians as human shields; (2) calls on the international community to recognize and condemn Hamas' breaches of international law through the use of human shields; (3) places responsibility for the rocket attacks against Israel on Hamas and other terrorist organizations, such as Islamic Jihad; (4) supports the sovereign right of the Government of Israel to defend its territory and its citizens from Hamas' rocket attacks, kidnapping attempts and the use of tunnels and other means to carry out attacks against Israel; (5) expresses condolences to the families of the innocent victims on both sides of the conflict; (6) supports Palestinian civilians who reject Hamas and all forms of terrorism and violence, desiring to live in peace with their Israeli neighbors; (7) condemns Hamas' repeated refusals to accept a cease- fire with Israel; (8) supports efforts to permanently demilitarize the Gaza Strip, removing Hamas's means to target Israel, including its use of tunnels, rockets, and other means; and (9) condemns the United Nations Human Rights Council's biased commission of inquiry into Israel's Gaza operations.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from California (Mr. Royce) and the gentleman from New York (Mr. Engel) each will control 20 minutes.
The Chair recognizes the gentleman from California.
General Leave Mr. ROYCE. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members may have 5 legislative days to revise and extend their remarks and to include extraneous material on the concurrent resolution.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the gentleman from California? There was no objection.
Mr. ROYCE. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Let me begin by expressing my appreciation to the chairman and ranking member of the Middle East Subcommittee, Ms. Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, and Mr. Deutch of Florida for their good work on this legislation. I am pleased to have worked with Mr. Engel and the leadership to ensure that this legislation was scheduled for the floor today for consideration.
Mr. Speaker, this legislation places responsibility for the escalation and violence squarely where it belongs: with the Iranian- backed terrorist group Hamas. Hamas is deliberately targeting Israeli civilians through the use not only of rockets but longer and longer range missiles--2,500 of these so far--aimed at cities--Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, attempting to attack Israeli communities. Remember, these attacks are at civilian populations, they are not at military installations. And Hamas is perpetuating the kidnapping and murder, which started with three Israeli teenagers.
Again and again, we have seen these incursions through these tunnels--32 new tunnels found so far--3 miles into Israeli territory. One of the amazing things, when you go into the tunnels, you see not only how they are used for these attacks, but what they have in reserve in these tunnels: ropes, syringes, tranquilizers, handcuffs, explosives, walls and walls of explosives. These were attempts to inflict mass casualty attacks on the civilian population.
$100 million is approximately what was spent on these tunnels, at the expense, I might add, of the Palestinian people. That is 4,000 trucks of equipment coming in over the border from Israel with cement--which was presumed to be used, hopefully, for schools or hospitals--with cement, with aggregate, with steel, instead used for the construction of these tunnels tunneling under Israel.
Less than 10 years ago, Israel pulled out of Gaza. The Strip was going to flourish without Israel's control. That was what we were told. But it wasn't supposed to be this way. It wasn't supposed to be a situation where Hamas would take resources and plow it into terror day by day.
Today, the Gaza Strip is a terrorist sanctuary on Israel's borders with sanctuaries within this sanctuary. We now know 32 of these are tunnels.
Beyond targeting Israeli civilians with kidnapping and indiscriminate firing of rockets, Hamas shows a callous disregard for the lives of the Palestinians it ostensibly represents. That is the purpose of this initiative here today, to call attention to that fact.
Earlier this month, the Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri appeared on Al-Aqsa television and encouraged Gaza residents to act as human shields. That is the responsibility they ask as they are hidden down in these tunnels. As they are in these bunkers, they ask their civilian population to go and make of themselves human shields in front of rocket launchers.
The world can't let terrorists embed their forces among the civilian population, using them as human shields, without speaking out. This is a direct violation of international humanitarian law and the law of war, sacrificing the innocent in an effort to protect those engaged in terror from an Israeli response.
Hamas is engaging in a crime of enormous proportions, perpetrated by those who are deliberately hiding among civilians to protect themselves. According to the Geneva Convention, the presence of the civilian population, or individual civilians, shall not be used to render certain points or areas immune from military operations, in particular, in attempts to shield military objectives from attack, or to shield, favor, or impede military operations. That is the Geneva Convention.
A full court press to discredit Israel is on in the United Nations. My question is: Where are the defenders of international law in condemning Hamas' use of human shields? I saw the report. There is no mention in there of the rockets being fired against Israel.
Yes, this is a case where Israel is using missile defense to protect its civilians, and Hamas is using their civilians to protect their missiles. It is a case where we have to recognize Israel's right to defend its people by taking necessary and appropriate force to neutralize the threat posed by Hamas.
Think about the recent discovery that Israeli security sources unearthed, evidence that Hamas was preparing to dispatch 200 terrorists via ten tunnels toward six Israeli communities with a goal of killing and kidnapping scores and scores of Israelis on the Jewish New Year. If that was on our border with Canada, how would we react? I urge all of my colleagues to support this resolution, which takes a strong stand against Hamas' crimes, and I reserve the balance of my time.