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Denouncing Use of Civilians as Humans Shields by Hamas and Other Terrorist Organizations

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. DEUTCH. I thank Chairman Royce and Ranking Member Engel and especially Chairman Ros-Lehtinen for her partnership in this effort to call the world's attention to Hamas' use of innocent civilians as human shields. I also thank Casey Kustin of my staff, Eddy Acevedo of Chairman Ros-Lehtinen's staff, and the committee staff as well, for bringing this important resolution to the floor.

Chairman Ros-Lehtinen and I were in Israel the night that the world learned the tragic fate of the three Israeli teens: Eyal, Gilad, and Naftali. We mourned with the families and tens of thousands of others at their joint funeral, and we were there just days later when 16-year-old Mohammed Abu Khdeir was brutally and tragically murdered.

In the wake of these heartbreaking deaths, violence escalated when Hamas began indiscriminately launching rockets at Israel, with the sole purpose of causing terror and death. Israel responded.

Every civilian death is tragic. We continue to mourn the loss of innocent lives on both sides of this conflict, but we cannot forget how this started, and we cannot forget who is responsible.

It is Hamas that has chosen to launch 2,600 rockets at civilians. It is Hamas that hides rockets and rocket launchers in UNRA schools, in mosques, and even in hospitals, using the Palestinian people as cover for their weapon stockpiles and their rocket launchers.

It is Hamas that chose to spend millions of dollars digging tunnels into Israel to launch terrorist attacks and fortifying underground bunkers for its terror commanders, instead of investing, so that the people of Gaza have a chance at a prosperous future.

It is Hamas that is responsible for the miserable condition of the Palestinians in Gaza, even before this military engagement started.

As former President Clinton said last week:

Hamas was perfectly well aware of what would happen if they started raining rockets in Israel. They fired a thousand of them, and they have a strategy designed to force Israel to kill their own civilians, so that the rest of the world will condemn them.

Mr. Speaker, while Israel warns the residents of Gaza of incoming attacks via text messages, phone calls, and leaflets, Hamas' spokesmen go on television to urge people to stay in their homes to act as human shields. This is a direct violation of the Geneva Convention. Let me be clear: the use of civilians as shields to protect military objectives is a violation of international law.

It is time for responsible nations to condemn this abhorrent behavior and condemn the use of innocent civilians as human shields.

Passing House Concurrent Resolution 107 won't stop Hamas from putting the lives of its citizens at risk as human shields, but it will make clear that the U.S. House condemns the terrorists who wants to destroy and murder Israelis--the terrorists who violate international law by using human shields.

I ask my colleagues to please support this resolution.

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