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Gwen M.
Democrat WI 4

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  • Denouncing Use of Civilians as Human Shields By Hamas and Other Terrorist Organizations

    by Representative Gwen Moore

    Posted on 2014-07-30

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    MOORE. Mr. Speaker, I rise with a heavy heart as death and violence once again rips the Middle East. Innocent civilians find themselves again hostage in a war that none of them sought. The rockets continue to rain down in Israel and civilians in Gaza find it harder and harder to find refuge. And there is no end in sight despite the ongoing work of peacemakers.



    The most pressing need at the moment is an immediate ceasefire that ends the rocket fire, allows humanitarian aid to reach those in need, and lays the foundation for efforts to address Israel's long term security needs. I am disappointed by the absence of any language in this resolution supporting international efforts to bring about an immediate ceasefire. Additionally, no one has come forward today to argue how this legislation brings us any closer to a peaceful resolution in the region or an end to the violence, terror, and fear being experienced in Israel and Gaza.

    Over 1,000 Palestinians have been killed so far, many, but not all of them civilians. Over 50 Israelis, including 3 civilians and two Israeli-American soldiers, have been killed so far. The key concern for me is the qualifier--so far. A key question at this volatile moment is how to end the violence. This resolution is absolutely silent on that point.

    I strongly believe that we need to work for an immediate ceasefire to prevent further death and destruction in both Israel and Gaza. I commend the U.S. for continuing to seek an immediate ceasefire which I fully support. Despite the gallant attempts of the Secretary of State and the U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and others, an agreement remains elusive and the violence continues.

    The resolution rightly condemns Hamas, a terrorist organization that has shown time and again its disregard for innocent human life. The only party that seems to benefit from further chaos and loss of life is Hamas, which continues to lob rockets at innocent Israelis. The barrage of rockets must stop. Hamas has no regard for the lives it puts in danger. Its despicable tactics have been thoroughly denounced by the international community including the U.N. Secretary General who recently noted that ``the United Nations position is clear: We condemn strongly the rocket attacks. These must stop immediately. We condemn the use of civilians--schools, hospital and other civilian facilities-- for military purposes. No country would accept rockets raining down on its territory--and all countries and parties have an international obligation to protect civilians.'' The resolution recognizes, as President Obama has, that Israel has a right to defend itself from relentless rocket attacks. The current rocket count is well over 1,000 and growing every day. Israel does not need authorization from the U.S. House of Representatives to act to stop the rocket fire by Hamas.

    I have been to Sderot. I talked with Israelis living in the shadows of the rockets, including one woman whose relative was killed by a rocket from Gaza in a previous conflict. And I remember her fervent desire to live at peace with her neighbors.

    I would point out that the resolution rightly recognizes that innocent civilians on both sides have suffered. According to the U.N., nearly 10% of the population of Gaza are seeking shelter at U.N. facilities, some of which have been attacked. The U.S. has recently announced it would provide $47 million to help meet immediate humanitarian needs in Gaza amid deteriorating conditions.

    However, I remain concerned that this resolution does not press for an immediate ceasefire by all parties or urge or express support for efforts by the U.S. and international community to push for that peace. That is the best way to support innocent civilians on both sides-- ending the violence that threatens them. You can't force peace on those who don't want it, but we must make every effort to offer a path out of misery and suffering and fear.

    As President Obama has said, ``Israel has a right to defend itself against rocket and tunnel attacks from Hamas.'' He also stated, ``I've also said, however, that we have serious concerns about the rising number of Palestinian civilian deaths and the loss of Israeli lives. And that is why it now has to be our focus and the focus of the international community to bring about a ceasefire that ends the fighting and that can stop the deaths of innocent civilians, both in Gaza and in Israel.'' As a Congress, we should join with the State Department, the U.N. Security Council, and others in urging all parties to redouble efforts to protect civilians, to find a way to end the violence and ensure peace and security for all, and to then move to find a long-term resolution that meets Israel's security needs and the rights of civilians to live in peace. This cycle of violence cannot continue indefinitely.

    Innocent Israeli and Palestinian civilians cannot afford another three weeks of rocket fire and further bloodshed. We must continue to push for a ceasefire and to help find a long term solution that will allow Israelis and Palestinians to live in peace, side by side. What is needed now is de-escalation of violence and escalation of diplomatic efforts.

    The SPEAKER pro tempore. The question is on the motion offered by the gentleman from California (Mr. Royce) that the House suspend the rules and agree to the concurrent resolution, H. Con. Res. 107, as amended.

    The question was taken; and (two-thirds being in the affirmative) the rules were suspended and the concurrent resolution, as amended, was agreed to.

    A motion to reconsider was laid on the table.

    ____________________

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