More than 100 Members Join Reps. Israel, Ros-Lehtinen, Deutch and Cole to Call on UN to Condemn Hamas’ Use of Civilians as Human Shields

Jul 28, 2014 Issues: Foreign Affairs

Washington, D.C.—Today, Reps. Steve Israel (D-NY), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Ted Deutch (D-FL) and Tom Cole (R-OK) announced that more than 100 bipartisan Members of Congress joined them in sending a letter to Navi Pillay, the U.N.'s top human rights official, calling on the UN to condemn Hamas’ use of civilians as human shields, which is a direct violation of international law. Hamas, a designated terrorist group, continues to launch missiles aimed at civilians in Israeli population centers and refuses to de-escalate the conflict by adhering to internationally-backed cease-fires.

Rep. Israel said, “The fact that Hamas uses Palestinian civilians as human shields shows their blatant disregard for human life. Israel, on the other hand, is doing everything in its power, not only to protect its own citizens, but also to prevent as much as possible causalities among Palestinians. That the UN is choosing to wrongly investigate Israel’s actions rather than condemning Hamas’ continual violation of international law is simply despicable. That’s why I join my colleagues in calling on the UN to rethink its course.” 

Rep. Ros-Lehtinen said, “Hamas’ use of Palestinian men, women and children as human shields and its indiscriminate rocket attacks against innocent Israeli civilians illustrates the crass indifference Hamas shows for human life. Yet the very body at the UN – the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) – that was created to protect and promote human rights around the world couldn’t even muster a word to denounce this egregious and intolerable violation of international humanitarian law. This letter puts the UNHRC on alert that it can no longer continue its anti-Israel agenda, and it must investigate Hamas’ human rights violations.” 

Rep. Deutch said, “It is Hamas that chose to invest money in underground bunkers for its leaders and terror tunnels and rocket launchers, instead of jobs, schools and healthcare for the people of Gaza. And it is Hamas who uses its own people as human shields to protect these rocket launchers. The use of civilians to protect military objectives is a direct violation of the Geneva Conventions. Hamas’ use of civilians as human shields is deplorable and should be condemned by any nation that values human rights.”

Rep. Cole said, “I join my colleagues in again condemning Hamas, both for its refusal to abide by ceasefire agreements and for its disregard for human life. Especially in light of the last several days of conflict, we are deeply grieved by the lives lost in Israel and Gaza. But because Hamas officials haven’t appropriately warned Gaza residents of known Israeli air strikes and have instead encouraged them to stay in their homes, the loss of innocent civilians is much worse and could have been prevented if warnings were heeded. In light of Hamas’ obvious crimes against its own people that includes using them as human shields, it is absolutely inappropriate for the United Nations Human Rights Council to investigate Israel for violations of international law.”

To read a copy of the letter, click here.

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Contact:
Samantha Slater (202) 225-3335 (Israel)
Keith Fernandez (Ros-Lehtinen)
Ashley Mushnick (Deutch)
Sarah Corley (202) 225-6165 (Cole)