As Israel continues to defend itself against Hamas' onslaught of rockets from Gaza, I would like to inform you about my recent trip to Israel, from which I returned on July 4th.
We all know the tragic events of the past month, in which three Israeli teens -- Eyal, Gilad and Naftali -- were abducted and murdered, as Israeli authorities confirmed, by Hamas operatives. But when I arrived in Israel with Congressman Ted Deutch, we still had hope that these boys were still alive. In fact, Ted and I had scheduled a meeting with the families for the morning of Tuesday, July 1, the day before we heard the horrific news.
It was about 8 at night when I received word that the Israelis had found three bodies near Hebron -- not too far from where the boys had been abducted. Israeli officials quickly confirmed the worst nightmares of an entire nation -- the bodies were those of Eyal, Gilad and Naftali. I cannot express to you the sadness I felt for the boys, their mothers and their families, and the people of Israel. Instead of meeting with the families to offer hope and support, Ted and I attended the funeral for Eyal, Gilad and Naftali, seemingly joined by an entire nation.
Prime Minister Netanyahu made the announcement to the Israeli people, and he promised them that the Hamas operatives who were behind this would be brought to justice. What I saw was a nation in mourning, but also a nation of resilience and pride that was unified as one trying to console their brothers and sisters. As President Reagan once said, "the people of Israel and America are historic partners in the global quest for human dignity and freedom. We will always remain at each other's side." A strong America is a strong Israel, and a strong Israel is a strong America.
But right now Israel is under siege, having seen over 600 rockets fired at innocent civilian populations by Hamas. That is why the United States must continue to support Israel's right to defend itself.
And that is also why we must press the Obama Administration to enforce U.S. law -- including one that I had authored, the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act -- which clearly states that no U.S. assistance can go to a Palestinian government that includes Hamas.