Denouncing Use of Civilians as Human Shields By Hamas and Other Terrorist Organizationsby Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen
Posted on 2014-07-30
ROS-LEHTINEN. I thank my good friend, the chairman of our
committee, Ed Royce of California, as well as the ranking member, Eliot
Engel, for their continued efforts in support of human rights and
Israel's right to defend herself.
Mr. Speaker, this resolution condemning Hamas' use of human shields in violation of international humanitarian law is an extremely important and timely measure, given the current situation in Israel and Gaza.
I want to first thank my colleague from South Florida, Ted Deutch, for joining me in introducing this legislation. It was at an official factfinding mission trip that we took to the Middle East earlier this month where Ted and I realized how important this measure was needed.
While we were there, Hamas had already begun to increase the frequency of indiscriminate rocket attacks against Israel. Prime Minister Netanyahu was compelled to respond, but made it clear from the very beginning that the objective was to restore peace and security to the people of Israel and that quiet would be met with quiet, but Hamas would not relent and only increased its attacks.
While Hamas was firing rockets at innocent Israeli civilians, Israel was taking every step imaginable to avoid Palestinian civilian casualties. Hamas' response was to intentionally place the Palestinians in harm's way.
It stores its rockets and weapons underneath the homes of Palestinians and even in at least three schools run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, and it uses Palestinian men, women, and children as human shields, in violation of international humanitarian law, by placing its missile batteries in densely-populated areas and near schools, hospitals, and mosques.
Mr. Speaker, the contrast between Israel--a legitimate sovereign state--and Hamas--a terrorist organization--could not be any clearer. Israel values and goes to great lengths to protect human life, while Hamas has no respect for human life and goes to great lengths to sacrifice anyone, including the Palestinian people, in the name of its war against Israel.
Israel has accepted repeated cease-fire offers. Hamas has rejected them all. While Israel seeks to fight terrorism, Hamas is an internationally recognized terror organization that is being supported by countries like Qatar in its war against our true democratic ally, Israel, yet it is Israel that wrongfully faces international condemnation for exercising her right to protect her citizens and defend herself and gets singled out when the world should be condemning Hamas.
Last week, Mr. Speaker, the U.N. Human Rights Council, an institution that has been leading the anti-Israel charge for years now and has since lost any legitimacy that it might have had, passed a resolution to investigate what it calls war crimes and human rights violations by Israel, not Hamas.
There was not even a word about Hamas' attacks against innocent Israeli civilians, nor Hamas' use of Palestinians as human shields. Of the 47 members on the Human Rights Council, you would think that there would be many voices of reason--or some voices of reason--to speak out against this obvious anti-Israel bias, but the United States was the lone voice of dissent against this anti-Israel resolution.
Our so-called European allies lacked the courage of their convictions, and they couldn't even muster the resolve to vote for or against the resolution. Instead, they abstained. This is a disgrace, and it is a shame.
If the United Nations Human Rights Council will not act and use its voice, that is why it is so important for the U.S. House of Representatives to pass this resolution and not only stand up for the Palestinian people who have been made pawns in Hamas' mission to destroy Israel, to their detriment, but for Israel in the face of this biased anti-Israel agenda.
We must be the counterbalance, Mr. Speaker. We must send a message to the world that we will continue to stand alongside Israel and that we will condemn Hamas and its use of human shields. I urge my colleagues to support this resolution to stand up for our ally, Israel, and to stand up for human rights and American ideals and principles.
I thank the chairman, Mr. Royce, and the ranking member, Mr. Engel, as well as my South Florida colleague, Mr. Deutch, for their help.