Over the last 36 hours, terrorists in Gaza have fired more than 500 rockets at civilians across southern Israel. The Israeli Iron Dome system intercepted almost 100 rockets, and the Israel Air Force hit dozens of Hamas military targets. But at least 20 projectiles struck Israeli populated areas, causing significant damage, many casualties and one death. The United States must continue to support Israel’s right to defend its citizens from these indiscriminate attacks, and Congress must complete action on legislation targeting Hamas’ use of human shields.
Hamas Targets Israeli Civilians
On Nov. 12 and 13, Hamas and other terrorists in Gaza fired more than 500 rockets and mortars at Israel. At least 20 rockets struck urban areas, resulting in the death of one person when a rocket struck an apartment building in Ashkelon. More than 70 Israelis have been wounded in the attacks.
On Nov. 12, terrorists in Gaza fired an anti-tank missile at a bus across the border in Israel, seriously wounding two individuals. A group of 50 Israel Defense Force (IDF) soldiers had left the bus just minutes before.
The latest round of rocket fire has forced more than 1.5 million Israelis into bomb shelters, as southern Israeli schools were cancelled and life was brought to a crawl.
Israel Targets Hamas Terrorists
The attacks on Israeli civilians followed the death of an IDF soldier and the wounding of another during what appears to have been a routine intelligence gathering operation in Gaza on Nov. 11.
Israel responded to the rocket fire from Gaza with more than 100 targeted strikes on Hamas terrorist infrastructure in Gaza, including its command and control centers, weapons storage facilities, tunnels, rocket firing squads and naval vessels.
As always, Israel took great care to avoid civilian casualties by using precision munitions and providing advance warning of strikes using leaflets, texts and phone calls. The Israeli Air Force even fired warning munitions at certain targets in a procedure known as “knocking on the roof” to encourage individuals to leave the area before a forthcoming strike.
Despite being attacked from Gaza, Israel has continued to facilitate the delivery of fuel and other goods to Gaza via the Kerem Shalom border crossing. Nearly every day, hundreds of trucks enter Gaza from Israel carrying food, medicine, construction materials and other commercial goods.
Hamas alone bears the responsibility for any suffering of Gaza’s residents. It continues to place its rockets in urban areas and use civilians as human shields.
Hamas—which took over the Gaza Strip in 2007, after Israel withdrew all of its citizens and soldiers—is an Iranian-backed terrorist organization dedicated to Israel’s destruction.
The United States must continue to stand by Israel and sanction Hamas.
The United States must continue to support Israel’s right and ability to defend itself. In the last fiscal year, the United States provided $500 million for Israeli missile defense systems and $47.5 million for anti-tunneling efforts. This funding has helped save countless lives and must continue.
Congress must also complete work on the Sanctioning the Use of Civilians as Defenseless Shields Act (H.R. 3342). This important bipartisan legislation mandates sanctions on members of Hamas responsible for the use of human shields. Hamas routinely fires rockets from civilian areas and hides its military infrastructure behind the people of Gaza.