Mr. OLSON. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to express my fears about the events occurring in southern Israel and Gaza. Last Saturday, Hamas-affiliated militias began firing rockets from Gaza into Israel. These attacks, directed at Israeli civilians, are acts of war. Israel has every right and a solemn duty to protect her citizens. The rocket attacks have continued all week, and yesterday, three Israeli civilians were killed in an attack on Kiryat Malakhi.
Regrettably, Israel was forced to take a necessary and appropriate step in defending her citizens by launching an offensive against Palestinian militants in Gaza. During the attacks, Israeli defense forces killed the military commander of Hamas in an air strike. Israel has clearly told those who kill the innocent that Israel will use whatever force necessary to protect her citizens.
Mr. Speaker, the people of Israel live in constant fear of rocket attacks from Gaza. In 2009, I visited the Israeli village of Sderot that borders on Gaza. I'll never forget talking to an Israeli mother who is always within arm's reach of her young children. Any time the air raid sirens scream a warning of an incoming barrage of rockets, she must be ready to grab her children and take cover in the family's bomb shelter. This has to be done within seconds or her family may be killed.
Mr. Speaker, the United States must continue to fully support Israel's right to defend herself against the constant threat of terrorist attacks by Hamas from Gaza. This is also a critically important moment for Egypt to step up as a responsible mediator to end the violence. The new Egyptian government has a chance to show its acceptance of the 1979 peace treaty. It is their choice, but whatever they decide, America will stand firmly beside our ally Israel.