Congressional Reactions to Operation Pillar of Defense

Senators, Congressmen support Israel

    Recent statements and reactions of Members of Congress to the situation in Southern Israel and operation "Pillar of Defense."​​​​​​
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    Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD)
    “I strongly support Israel’s right to defend its citizens against threats to its security and existence. The recent military action in Gaza is a direct response to numerous and ongoing rocket attacks from militants in the Hamas-controlled Gaza, which have injured dozens of Israeli citizens. I am deeply saddened by the continued violence and loss of innocent lives. The Israelis and the Palestinians must find a way to advance a stable and lasting peace between their peoples through direct negotiations. The United States will continue to do all that is within our power to promote peace in the region and resolve the differences that have poisoned relations between Israelis and Palestinians for far too many generations.” (Statement, November 15)

    Senators Bob Casey (D-PA), Barbara Boxer (D-CA) Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Jim DeMint (R-SC) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA)
    “This afternoon, we were briefed by Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren on the security situation in Israel and the Gaza Strip. Over the past week, more than 100 rockets have been fired from Gaza into southern Israel, some of which have been repelled by the Iron Dome air defense system. As a bipartisan group of Senators committed to Israel's security, we express our solidarity with Israel during this deeply challenging period and denounce the reprehensible and indiscriminate rocket attacks launched by Hamas and Islamic Jihad against innocent Israeli citizens. We strongly support Israel's right to defend its people and call on those responsible for the violence to cease their attacks against Israel immediately. Escalation will only lead to further suffering on both sides.” (Statement, November 14)

    Senator James Inhofe (R-OK)
    “Iran’s overt support for terrorist organizations like Hamas and Hezballah make the recent attacks on Israel possible. Iran has made their intentions against Israel clear, making it even more imperative that we prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear arsenal and the means for its delivery. For the past 24 hours, Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) have moved to defend itself by striking Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorist sites and their leadership in the Gaza strip in retaliation for repeated cross border attacks by these terrorist organizations against the nation of Israel and their innocent civilians. It is disgusting that these terrorist groups use the Palestinian people as human shields. America must stand in support of Israel and our ally’s right to self defense. I stand with Israel, and as a nation, we should be pushing for the international community to condemn the attacks on Israel and call upon Hamas and its terrorist sponsor Iran to immediately halt this current reign of terror against the people of Israel.” (Statement, November 15)

    Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ)
    “For years now, the terrorists in Hamas-controlled Gaza have refused to recognize Israel’s right to exist and have launched thousands of rockets and missiles at Israel and innocent civilians in
    southern Israel. In just the last year, more than 700 rockets and missile shells have been launched from Gaza into Israel – resulting in the senseless destruction of countless homes and the tragic loss of innocent lives. In the face of this undeterred threat, we must again recognize Israel’s absolute and inherent right to defend itself and demand that Hamas immediately renounce the use of violence and recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish and democratic state. Furthermore, the United Nations Security Council and regional neighbors, like Egypt and Turkey, should condemn Hamas’ escalation of rocket and missile attacks and call on Hamas to cease all of its terrorist activity.” (Statement, November 15)

    House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA)
    “For decades, the terrorist organization Hamas has been dedicated to the destruction of Israel and has committed innumerable acts of terrorism against Israeli citizens. Hamas' campaign of terrorism has long been sponsored and supported by the Islamic Republic of Iran and by Bashar Assad's brutal regime in Syria. After violently seizing power in Gaza from Fatah in 2007, Hamas turned Gaza into a haven of terror from which it has launched countless rocket attacks against Israeli cities. Hamas and other terrorist groups in Gaza recently launched a new campaign of terror against Israel in which hundreds of rockets and mortars have been fired at Israel in recent weeks.

    I stand with Israel's decision and its right to defend itself against the threat posed by terrorist rocket attacks, and call upon Palestinians in Gaza to abandon the terrorists whose violent extremism serves only to frustrate the peace between Israelis and Palestinians for which all Americans hope. “This is also an important moment for Egyptian President Morsi and other Egyptian leaders to demonstrate that Egypt is committed to being a responsible international actor. As an American who desires good relations between Israel and her Arab neighbors, I hope that Egyptian leaders will respect Israel's inherent right to self-defense, return the Egyptian Ambassador to Israel, and play a constructive role — as it has in the past — in working to diffuse violence emanating from Gaza and promote regional stability.” (Statement, November 14)

    House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)
    “As we gather here, we have growing concern about the escalating violence in Israel and in Gaza.  I want to associate myself with the comments of President Obama and … with our Secretary of State.  As you know, the President has stated that he has spoken with Prime Minister Netanyahu and expressed what we all believe, that Israel has the right to defend itself as a nation, and we are also concerned about any civilian deaths.  We mourn those deaths, and we want Hamas not to put people in harm's way so that we can avoid the loss of civilian life.  Last night I spoke to the White House on this subject, I just got off the phone with Ambassador Michael Oren.  We will continue to monitor that situation.”  (Press conference, November 15)

    House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD)
    “Israel, like all sovereign nations, has a fundamental duty to its citizens to defend their lives and their property. For years now, Israel has endured thousands of rocket attacks by Hamas from the Gaza Strip. These attacks have targeted civilian areas throughout Southern Israel - and today even reached as far north as the outskirts of Tel Aviv. As long as this terrorist organization continues to avoid disarming, abiding by past agreements, or recognizing Israel’s right to exist, it will continue to be isolated by the international community and be the cause of further hardship for the Palestinian civilians who suffer at its hands. I urge all parties to exercise strong caution so as to avoid an escalation that would only lead to further violence, destruction, and loss of life. I also call on those countries with a leading role to play in the region to work toward a peaceful resolution to these events. Only when Hamas forswears violence, reaffirms prior agreements, and recognizes Israel’s right to exist will we be any closer to a just and lasting peace: one in which the Palestinian and Israeli peoples can live, securely, side by side.” (Statement, November 15)

    Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL)
    “With our deepest concern and strongest support, the United States stands firm with our ally Israel, currently under fire from an onslaught of Hamas rockets. I reject Hamas’s relentless violence, and commend President Obama’s unwavering commitment to our ally, including his
    fundamental support for the Iron Dome missile defense system. As the days unfold, we remain united in our support of Israel’s sovereign right to self-defense and ever hopeful for a return to calm and peace. My thoughts and prayers remain with the people of Israel in these uncertain times.” (Statement, November 14)

    Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL)
    “For years, Israelis have lived under the constant threat of rockets from Hamas-controlled Gaza. In this year alone, over 800 rockets have been fired from Gaza into southern Israel, threatening the lives of all those who live there. Peace is only attainable if Hamas ceases these unjustifiable attacks. However, until then, Israel should be allowed to defend itself against these acts of terror. We must continue to support our strongest democratic ally in the region and encourage others to do so, as well.” (Statement, November 15)

    Rep. Bob Dold (R-IL)
    I rise today to address the recent events in the Middle East. Our ally Israel , like every nation, must have the right to defend itself and its citizens against ongoing acts of terror.   We know now that the international community frequently looks for opportunities to delegitimize Israel's actions, which is why it is essential that we here in the United States of America loudly and publicly express our support for Israel's right to defend itself in the face of Hamas' terror.   Hamas is responsible for over 800 rocket attacks on Israel in 2012--with over 250 rockets indiscriminately fired on Israel's citizens in the past 5 days alone. Because of this escalation, 1 million men, women and children in southern Israel have been forced to live under the threat of attacks and must now know where the nearest rocket shelter is located. As I speak, thousands of Israelis are sleeping in bomb shelters out of fear for their lives and the lives of their children.   Mr. Speaker, no nation would sit back and tolerate its population living under such threatening conditions. Certainly, we here in the United States would not.  (Floor speech, November 15)

    Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY)
    "When Israel gets attacked, Israel will defend itself. My thoughts are with all Israelis today and every day." (Via Twitter, November 15)

    Rep.-elect Joe Kennedy (D-MA)
    "I strongly condemn Hamas' continued rocket fire coming from Gaza into southern Israel. When I visited the communities under attack earlier this year, I saw firsthand the bomb shelters and sealed rooms in which a million Israelis are taking refuge right now. No one should be made to live under the threat of constant shelling, and I support Israel's right to defend its citizens from these attacks. My prayers are with Israel and with the innocent victims of this conflict - and my hope is that the violence soon subsides so people can begin to put their lives back together in an atmosphere of calm and security." (Facebook, November 15)

    Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-FL)
    “I support Israel and respect each country's right to protect and defend its citizens from terrorist attacks.  I am deeply saddened and concerned by the recent escalation of attacks and urge the State Department to assist in peace efforts.  I am hopeful that a peaceful resolution can be achieved soon to end the violence.” (Statement, November 15)

    Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH)
    "The recent news of a military offensive in Gaza and retaliatory rocket attacks in Southern Israel is heartbreaking.  This escalation of violence is extremely dangerous in the current changing and fragile landscape in the Middle East,” said Kucinich. “Innocent people on both sides of the conflict have been killed, including the 11 month old son of a BBC employee.  I strongly urge an immediate end to hostilities and urge the United States to push for all diplomatic measures necessary to end the violence and work toward a peaceful solution.” (Statement, November 15)

    Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO)
    "I strongly condemn the attacks which took the lives of three innocent Israeli civilians earlier today.  For too long the citizens of Israel have been terrorized by rockets launched by the terrorist regime Hamas in Gaza- over 800  rockets have been launched at Israeli communities in the past 11 months.  This assault on the people of Israel is intolerable.  It is the sovereign right of Israel to defend herself against these acts of terror and to take decisive action in order to defend the lives of the citizens of Israel.  Additionally, the success of the Iron Dome Missile Defense System in protecting Israel against these missiles from Hamas, underscores the need for this system.  Congress must continue to support Israel’s missile defense system in the face of these deadly attacks."  (Statement, November 15)

    Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY)
    Israel has right & responsibility to defend itself from Hamas attacks. Must be no doubt such terrorism will never be tolerated. (Via Twitter, November 15)

    Rep. Tom Price (R-GA)
    We must continue to stand with our ally Israel and all those who seek peace and an end to violence in the Middle East. (Via Twitter, November 15)

    Rep. Henry Waxman (D-NY)
    The United States stands firmly with Israel as it responds to the onslaught of rockets terrorizing cities across Southern Israel. The deadly escalation of attacks by Hamas is a war on Israeli civilians and a grave danger to the Palestinians in Gaza already suffering under the oppressive Hamas regime. It is imperative that the international community defend Israel’s right to defend itself. (Statement, November 15)

    Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY)
    “I condemn in the strongest terms the current aggression by Hamas against the civilian population in southern Israel. These attacks are entirely without justification and amount to murderous provocations by a terrorist regime which refuses to recognize Israel’s right to exist, and which refuses to work toward a peaceful coexistence for both sides. Israel has every right to defend its borders, to repel such attacks, and to target those responsible. I applaud President Obama for his leadership and strong condemnation of these attacks. And I am gratified to see that the Iron Dome missile defense system has worked so well to prevent further bloodshed and destruction in Israel.” (Statement, November 15)

    Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD)
    “I strongly condemn Hamas’ firing of rockets from Gaza into Israel, which has terrorized Israel’s civilian population. Israel has every right to defend herself from these senseless and cowardly attacks on her citizens. I call on Hamas to immediately stop its attacks on Israel to allow the situation to de-escalate.” (Statement, November 15)

    Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY)
    “Israel and its citizens are under a grave and immediate threat and need the world’s support right now. Israel has been suffering a barrage of rocket fire by terrorists from Gaza recently and has not just the right but the obligation to defend itself and its citizens with a forceful response that will stop the shelling. The rocket attacks against Israel are an unconscionable act of terrorism and the world community – starting with the United States and its Congress – should stand behind Israel as she defends herself. These attacks against Israel are a major setback to peace in the region and need to stop immediately.” (Statement, November 15)

    Rep. Gary Peters (D-MI)
    “One of the most impactful experiences of my tenure in Congress was my visit to S'derot where Israelis face constant rocket attacks. Today, these attacks have resulted in the tragic deaths of three innocent Israelis. I strongly support Israel's right to self defense from these indiscriminate attacks on its civilians because innocent children should never know this kind of fear. I am reassured to know that President Obama is strongly supporting Israel during this difficult hour and consulting closely with Prime Minister Netanyahu.” (Statement, November 15)

    Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) 
    “Mr. Speaker, in the past 24 hours alone, terrorists in the Gaza Strip have launched more than 250 rockets into southern Israel​. That’s 250 rockets in one day since hamas began its strikes. Imagine 250 rockets raining down in one day on your community, anywhere in the US. You would expect our government to act to protect our citizens. Israel is acting to protect her citizens, Israel has the right to protect her citizens from terrorist attacks. In the early hours of this morning, three Israeli civilians died when a rocket from Gaza struck a top floor of an apartment building. Later in the day, a rocket hit just ten miles from Tel Aviv. The United States mourns the loss of life at the hands of hamas terrorists. We will not waver in our support of Israel’s right to defend herself against these and other attacks. The right of any nation to defend its citizens can never be called into question. Mr. speaker, at this challenging time for our great ally, the United States stands with Israel.” (Floor speech, November 15)

    Terrorists have fired 250 rockets at Israeli civilians in 24 hours. Heading to House floor to stand for Israel's right to defend herself. (Via Twitter, November 15)

    Rep. Allen West (R-FL)
    “I fully support the Israeli military strike that killed the Hamas military wing chief, Ahmed Jabari. Hamas is a known Islamic terrorist organization and clearly states in its charter the aim to destroy the modern day State of Israel. Mr. Jabari has been responsible for countless rocket and missile attacks originating from Gaza Strip into Southern Israel. I have personally seen the destruction this causes, and visited the City of Sderot where bomb shelters stand on school playgrounds and children suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. The Israeli’s turned over Gaza to the Palestinians in an offer to further the peace process. What they have received in return are more attacks and carnage. I stand with Israel, and as a Member of the House Armed Services Committee, will support supplying the requested resources enabling Israel to defend herself from our common enemy, radical Islamic terrorism. We cannot abandon our best ally in her true time of need. We have no doubt that the new Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt supports Hamas.” (Statement, November 14)

    Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL)
    Today, Congressman Joe Walsh (IL-08) renewed his call for Washington to bring accountability to the Middle East and make U.S. aid to the Palestinians and Egypt contingent on peace and reform. Repeated barrages of rocket and mortar fire from the Gaza Strip have so far killed three Israeli civilians and wounded several others, including children. "I applaud Secretary Clinton for reiterating the United State's support for Israel's right to self defense," said Walsh. "But this is hardly enough. More than 220 rockets have been fired at Israeli civilians from militants in Gaza. The United States must hold the Palestinians accountable for these unprovoked, heinous acts. It must also hold Egypt, Qatar, and Iran accountable for their support of Palestinian militants and the terrorist group Hamas." 

    Walsh has authored several pieces of legislation aimed at bringing accountability to the Middle East peace process. The Palestinian Accountability Act, H.R. 2457, would make any aid to the Palestinian Authority contingent upon much-needed reforms, including an end to corruption and the vilification of Israel. In July, Walsh led a letter with 35 other Members of Congress to House Leadership urging them to withhold aid to the new Egyptian government until it reaffirms its treaties with Israel. "I am disappointed that Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi has used this unprovoked attack on Israel to reveal both his sympathy for the terrorist group, Hamas, and his opposition to Middle East peace. Why are we providing Egypt with $2 billion in foreign aid every year to vilify our allies and oppose American interests? It's time to hold Egypt accountable as well. I urge the President to withhold foreign aid to Egypt until it publicly reaffirms its treaties with Israel." (Statement, November 15)

    Rep. John Culberson (R-TX)
    “I stand firmly with Israel and offer my continued prayers for their safety and security. The United States has no greater ally in the world, and I urge this administration to honor our commitment to them. Israel has the absolute right to defend itself against the countless attacks of terrorism on its citizens. This is a critical moment for Israel, and the world, and they must have the full support of the United States.” (Statement, November 15)

    “The United States has no greater ally than Israel, and they must have our full support at this critical time.” (Via Twitter, November 15)

    Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R-PA)
    Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick (PA-08) spoke this morning with Yaron Sideman, Consul General of Israel to the Mid Atlantic Region on the escalating situation in Israel and the Gaza Strip. Consul General Sideman noted that currently, millions of Israeli citizens are under fire from Hamas forces in the Gaza Strip. Rockets are now reaching past the southern towns, into Israel’s larger metropolitan areas like Rishon LeZion and Tel Aviv. Over the last two days, more than 260 rockets have been fired into Israel, killing three civilians in the city of Kiryat Malachi, and wounding a number of Israelis who had taken shelter in a house and a school in the city of Ashdod.

    Following the call, Fitzpatrick expressed his continued support for Israel and its citizens, declaring that “I strongly condemn Hamas’ campaign of terror aimed at Israel, and demand that those responsible end this senseless aggression immediately." Since 2009, more than 2,500 rockets have been fired at Israel. These rockets often target civilian population centers, including hospitals, schools and shopping malls. With the deployment of the Iron Dome Missile Defense System, the IDF has managed to successfully intercept over 85% of these missiles.

    Fitzpatrick concluded, declaring that “the Israeli people must know that America stands with them. I will continue to avidly support Israel’s right to defend itself as the men and women of the Israeli Defense Force work to prevent any further civilian casualties.” In 2005, Israel ended its military and civilian presence in Gaza, which Hamas now controls. Israel has recently launched defensive operation Pillar of Defense in response to the ongoing Hamas assault on Israel’s civilian population. The U.S. State Department today issued its own statement writing that, “Hamas claims to have the best interests of the Palestinian people at heart, yet it continues to engage in violence that is counterproductive to the Palestinian cause. Attacking Israel on a near daily basis does nothing to help Palestinians in Gaza or to move the Palestinian people any closer to achieving self determination.” (Statement, November 15)

    Rep. Scott Rigell (R-VA)
    The United States stands shoulder to shoulder with Israel as she exercises her inherent right and moral obligation to defend herself. (Via Twitter, November 15)

    Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA)
    “Israel has more than the right to defend itself, it has a duty to protect its citizens, which it is exercising.  A wave of missile attacks have been hitting Israeli territory for several days.  Hamas’ missiles are designed solely to terrorize and kill.  No country would stand for this,” said Royce.  “Sirens are now sounding in southern Israel, warning citizens that they have seconds to take shelter.  Six years ago, I was in northern Israel, as Haifa came under rocket fire from Hezbollah.  I heard those same sirens.  Now is the time to stand by Israel as its citizens are being terrorized.” (Statement, November 15)

    Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA)
    Praying for peace in Middle East as violence escalates between Israel and Hamas this week. (Twitter, November 15)

    Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN)
    Israel has every right to defend herself and America must and will stand with our close ally. (Via Twitter, November 15)

    Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY)
    I stand in support of the right of the government of Israel to defend itself against threats to the security of its people. (Via Twitter, November 15)

    Rep. Kenny Marchant (R-TX)
    We must continue to stand with our ally Israel and all those who seek peace and an end to violence in the Middle East. (Via Twitter, November 15).