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In Support of Israel's Right to Self-Defense

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. PALLONE. Mr. Speaker, I rise to express my support, my strong support, for the Nation of Israel as it exercises its right to self-defense in the face of terrorist attacks.

I am sure my colleagues are aware that back on June 25th, members of the Hamas terrorist organization attacked an Israeli military post outside the Gaza Strip. Two Israeli soldiers were killed and another was captured. Israel responded to this clear act of war with appropriate force, seeking the return of its soldier and an end to rocket attacks coming from the Gaza Strip. The violence continued, though, with Gaza-based terrorists firing a rocket into a high school in the city of Ashkelon.

Many of Hamas' top leaders have advocated the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers, including the Palestinian Foreign Minister, who said in March that Hamas should kidnap Israeli soldiers and exchange them for jailed Palestinian terrorists.

Of course, attacks on Israel from the Gaza Strip were just the beginning. Last week, Hezbollah terrorists attacked Israeli soldiers in northern Israel, killing eight and kidnapping two. They also began firing rockets on northern Israeli towns, including Haifa, the third-largest city in the country.

Israel again responded to this act of war by seeking to defend themselves. They entered Lebanon in an attempt both to rescue the kidnapped soldiers and prevent Hezbollah terrorists from committing further acts against Israel. They also blockaded the country to prevent Iran and Syria from sending further supplies, arms, and terrorists into Lebanon to support Hezbollah's actions.

This weekend, however, with increasing attacks from Hezbollah, Israel officials are now warning civilians as far south as Tel Aviv to be on alert for rocket attacks. There is also word that Iranian Revolutionary Guard soldiers are in southern Lebanon, helping to train Hezbollah and equip them with new, longer-range missiles and rockets, so they can threaten more Israeli citizens.

Unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, world leaders have not solidly backed Israel's right to self-defense. While the Bush administration expressed support for Israel's actions, support for our ally in the Middle East has not come from all corners. In fact, last week the European Union criticized Israel's response as ``disproportionate.'' I would like to know what the EU would think if one of their member nations were attacked by terrorists and the U.S. referred to their response as ``disproportionate.''

The EU has also condemned Israel for its air and sea blockade of Lebanon. That blockade is necessary, however, because we know that otherwise Iran and Syria would continue to funnel more and more weapons and personnel into southern Lebanon.

Mr. Speaker, on Friday I wrote to the current EU president to express my strong disapproval of the European Union's comments. I will include for the RECORD that letter.

The fact is, Mr. Speaker, that Israel has complied with international agreements, such as U.N. Security Council Resolution 425, by withdrawing from Lebanon. Unfortunately, the Lebanese Government has not held up its end of the bargain, failing to control southern Lebanon, rein in Hezbollah and support peace and security on their southern border, as required by Security Council Resolution 1559 from September 2004.

Hamas, meanwhile, called Hezbollah's actions ``a heroic operation.'' Despite what many international observers thought might happen, Hamas is not acting like a responsible government. Instead, they are sticking to their roots as a terrorist organization, encouraging the sort of attacks that flared up in the recent violence.

Mr. Speaker, the international community needs to stand behind the State of Israel and support it as they defend themselves against terrorist attacks. I understand that tomorrow we are going to consider a resolution on the House floor that would express support for Israel and condemn the attacks by Hamas and Hezbollah, and I urge my colleagues in the strongest possible terms to vote for this resolution.

For the sake of the Israeli people and all residents of the region, I hope the current violence ends soon. But we must recognize Israel's right to defend itself and do what it must to end terrorist attacks against their soldiers and their people.

Mr. Speaker, I include for the RECORD the letter referred to earlier.

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