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Congressman Tom Cole

Representing the 4th District of Oklahoma

We Must Stand with Israel

September 2, 2014
Weekly Columns

In addition to the growing threat of terrorism due to ISIS influence in Iraq and Syria, there is another volatile situation that must be watched along the Gaza strip. Like ISIS, Hamas is a Sunni Islamist party that has shown its disregard for human life and sole intention to do harm. This has taken form through numerous unprovoked and unwarranted rocket attacks on Israel by Hamas, sometimes despite supposed ceasefire agreements, and use of its own civilians as human shields. 

Israel is one of America’s most important and loyal friends. In light of the unrest and tension that has grown over the last several weeks, we must remain supportive of Israel’s right to fight the terrorist acts of Hamas. Fortunately, America has already played an important role in combating Hamas through the Iron Dome, a joint Israel-American project completed in 2011 that intercepts missiles. The use of this impressive technology has proved indispensable and protected millions of lives from thousands of Hamas rocket attacks.  

We live in a dangerous world, where hatred of Western civilization and the corresponding threat of violence by terrorists are ever-present. Like other terrorist organizations, Hamas is out to kill and destroy those associated with the West, which means threats against Israel also jeopardize American security.

The world is deeply grieved by the innocent lives lost in both Israel and Gaza. Since July 8, Hamas has fired more than 4,500 rockets toward Israel, intending to claim innocent Israeli lives. But beyond these attacks on Israel, Hamas has also knowingly put its own civilians in harm’s way by encouraging them to stay in their homes when Israel warned of coming retaliation. Hamas using its people as human shields and not encouraging them to take cover are serious humanitarian crimes—a reminder that the group must be deterred. 

In light of the situation in the Middle East, I joined Congressman Steve Israel to introduce a House resolution reinforcing Israel’s right to defend itself against unprovoked rocket attacks. I was encouraged that it included more than 140 cosponsors from both sides of aisle and passed with strong bipartisan support at the end of July. In addition, we wrote a letter, co-signed by more than 100 members to Navi Pillay, the United Nation's top human rights official, urging the U.N. to condemn Hamas’ use of civilians as human shields—a direct violation of international law.

It is important that we continue to stand by Israel in the days ahead. While our friends desire to live peaceably in the region with its Palestinian neighbors, that requires the cooperation or discouragement of those on other side. Until and unless the environment changes, Israel will continue to take care of its own and remain committed in the fight against terror.