Bipartisan coalition presses Biden admin to hold terror groups accountable
The Biden administration is ignoring a congressional mandate to impose sanctions on the Iranian-backed terror groups Hamas and Hezbollah for their use of human shields in combat, according to a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers.
Congress passed legislation in 2018 that requires the U.S. government to sanction every individual involved in the use of human shields, in which women and children are placed in harm’s way during combat to maximize casualties. Hamas and Hezbollah routinely employ this tactic during skirmishes with Israel to make it appear as if the Jewish state is killing innocent civilians.
“Despite overwhelming evidence, the Biden administration has yet to impose sanctions—as required by law—on the leaders of Hamas and Hezbollah for their barbaric use of human shields,” Rep. Mike Gallagher (R., Wis.) told the Washington Free Beacon. “These sanctions are long overdue and will send a strong signal that the United States will not tolerate the use of human shields.”
Gallagher and a coalition of 22 lawmakers from both parties wrote to the Biden administration earlier this week to demand that it enforce the Shields Act, which mandated sanctions be applied on Hamas and Hezbollah for their use of civilians in combat, according to a copy of the letter obtained exclusively by the Free Beacon. While former president Donald Trump laid the groundwork for the law to be implemented in 2019, the Biden administration has yet to issue any sanctions on the terror groups or their leaders.
“While the U.S. government has taken other strong measures to combat Hamas and Hezbollah in recent years, it has yet to sanction Hamas and Hezbollah leaders for their use of human shields,” the lawmakers wrote in a Dec. 20 letter to the Treasury and State Departments, which are tasked with implementing the law. “Imposing such sanctions would make clear the U.S. government does not tolerate the use of human shields and would encourage like-minded countries to take similar measures against this war crime. It would also augment the Biden administration’s efforts to undermine Hamas and weaken Hezbollah.”
During the 11-day conflict in May between Israel and Hamas, the terror group used human shields. Hamas, for instance, placed stockpiles of weapons in apartment buildings and installed a military headquarters next to a kindergarten, according to information published by the Israel Defense Forces. Rocket launchers were also found positioned in a school courtyard and near civilian structures.
“Each rocket launched at Israeli civilians from a site amongst Gaza civilians was thus a double war crime, violating the law of armed conflict prohibition on targeting civilians as well as the prohibition on using civilians as human shields,” the lawmakers wrote in their letter.
In one of the most glaring examples of Hamas’s use of human shields, it situated a military command post in an apartment building that housed journalists from the Associated Press and other outlets. Israel destroyed that complex after warning civilians to evacuate. The strike sparked outrage in headlines across the globe, forcing Israel to produce evidence proving that Hamas had taken over the building.
Yahya Sinwar, a Hamas leader based in the Gaza Strip who has close ties to Iran, said in May 2018 that the terror group has an expressed policy of using Palestinian civilians as human shields.
Hamas “decided to turn that which is most dear to us—the bodies of our women and children—into … a dam to prevent the racing of many Arabs towards the normalization of ties with the plundering entity,” Sinwar said.
“Imposing Shields Act sanctions on Sinwar and other relevant Hamas leaders would be an important step toward countering the extensive use of human shields against the U.S. and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization,” the lawmakers wrote in their letter.
Orde Kittrie, a former State Department official and senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies think tank, described the congressional letter as a “positive step forward” in combating Hamas’s and Hezbollah’s use of human shields.
“The extensive use of human shields by Hamas and Hezbollah in recent years is well documented,” Kittrie said. “Imposing sanctions would make clear the U.S. government does not tolerate the use of human shields and would encourage our NATO and other allies to take similar measures against this war crime.”
Led by Florida’s Marco Rubio, a group of GOP senators said Friday they would be reintroducing legislation intended to force other countries to take a hard line on Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and other terrorist groups whose mission is to bring about the destruction of Israel.
The Palestinian International Terrorism Support Prevention Act, which already has the support of almost a dozen of Rubio’s GOP colleagues, is a call for tough measures against Israel’s opponents that runs counter to the softer approach being taken by the Biden Administration.
“As these terrorist groups continue to show zero regard for the loss of innocent lives and threaten our ally, Israel, I’m proud to reintroduce this bill which seeks to impose sanctions against foreign nationals and governments who are actively providing material support to these groups,” Rubio said. “We must hold accountable the individuals who are aiding the terrorist activities of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.”
The legislation under consideration requires the imposition of sanctions on countries, individuals, entities, and governments that provide support to anti-Israel terror groups and requires the U.S. president to send to Congress an assessment regarding America’s foreign allies’ diligence in choking off the stream of terror dollars that finance activities such as the recent weeklong rocket attack waged by Hamas against civilian Israeli targets.
“As our ally Israel continues to stand its ground in the face of ongoing terrorist attacks, we must step up to hold these terrorist groups and their enablers to account,” Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, who was one of the bill’s earliest co-sponsors said in a release. “It’s incumbent on responsible nations to do their part to prevent material support from reaching those who desire to destroy our ally. This bill sends a clear message that anyone who aids Israel’s attackers will face stiff consequences.”
“During the recent Israel-Gaza conflict, Hamas launched thousands of rockets intended to kill Israeli civilians. Hamas, a terrorist organization supported by Iran, also put the lives of Palestinian civilians at risk,” said Maine U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, who added the proposed legislation reaffirms “the United States’ commitment to combatting global terrorism.”
“Israel is one of our closest allies and deserves our support in countering these persistent threats to its security,” North Dakota GOP Sen. John Hoeven, another principal sponsor of the bill said. “Our legislation will sanction those who support terrorism against Israel while holding accountable those nations that do not take seriously the threats posed by Hamas and other terrorist groups.”
“America will always stand unapologetically with our great ally, Israel, and against all that wish it harm,” Florida Sen. Rick Scott said. “I’m proud to again join Senator Rubio on this important legislation to clearly demonstrate the United States’ intolerance for violent terrorist groups like Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad and hold accountable all who support them.”
Joining Rubio as additional original co-sponsors of the Palestinian International Terrorism Support Prevention Act are Kansas GOP Sen. Jerry Moran, Indiana’s Todd Young, and Mike Braun, Iowa’s Joni Ernst, John Boozman of Arkansas, Cindy Hyde-Smith, and Roger Wicker of Mississippi, Oklahoma’s James Lankford, Tennessee’s Marsha Blackburn, and Bill Haggerty and Josh Hawley of Missouri.
What makes this war different—and disturbing
Israel has battled Hamas four times since the terror organization seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007. Each battle unfolds the same way: Hamas launches rockets at Israel’s civilian population, Israel bombs Hamas targets, and the fighting continues until terrorist infrastructure is sufficiently degraded so that the rocket fire stops for a few years. Israelis call it “mowing the lawn.” The last major clash was in 2014. In its origins, order of battle, and strategy and tactics, Operation Guardian of the Walls, which began May 10, resembles these previous flareups.
So what’s different? Just about everything.
The region has changed. In 2014 the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, legitimizing the nuclear program of Israel’s archenemy Iran, was a gleam in John Kerry’s eye. Its adoption the following year, and America’s withdrawal from the agreement in 2018, realigned the Middle East along the axis of Iranian power. The result was an Arab-Israel détente formalized in the 2020 Abraham Accords. From a regional perspective, the Palestinian cause is less important than Iran’s ambitions.
Israel has changed. In 2014 Benjamin Netanyahu was at the outset of his third term and led from a position of strength. His indictment on corruption charges in 2019 initiated a political crisis that has led to four elections (and most likely a fifth) in the space of two years. On the eve of the latest violence, Israel’s bewildering politics became even more surprising when two of Netanyahu’s rivals enticed an Arab Islamist party to join a coalition government. That effort collapsed when the rockets blazed. The subsequent outbreak of intercommunal violence in cities with large Arab-Israeli populations is a reminder of Israel’s pressing domestic challenges. The security issue unites Israel. Just about everything else divides it.
America has changed. In the summer of 2014, Barack Obama was a lame duck, the Republicans controlled the House and were on the verge of winning the Senate, and Donald Trump was the host of Celebrity Apprentice. Obama’s dislike of Netanyahu and willingness to expose “daylight” between the United States and Israel was no secret. But anti-Israel invective was limited to the fringe. And anti-Israel media bias was nowhere near as bad as it is today.
Then came the Great Awokening. The dialectic of Black Lives Matter and Donald Trump drove the nation into its current obsession with race, culminating in the protests, riots, vandalism, cancellations, and iconoclasm that followed the murder of George Floyd one year ago. The Trump years brought a revolutionary fervor to American politics, radicalizing the left and burdening the rest of us with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her anti-Israel, socialist “Squad” of congressional Democrats.
The Squad shares an all-encompassing woke mindset that collapses individuals and events into a reductive binary of oppressor and oppressed. When the Squad looks at Israel and Hamas, it cannot see anything other than Critical Race Theory. And so this emboldened left draws disgustingly false equivalences between American racial minorities and Palestinians. It slanders Israel as an apartheid state. It demands America stop a planned weapons sale to Israel in the middle of our ally’s offensive against terrorists supplied by Iran. It says President Biden is “taking orders” from the Jewish prime minister.
What the Squad lacks in numbers it makes up for in noise. Its members exploit social media, show up on MSNBC, and amplify the hostility to Israel already thick on college campuses and in progressive enclaves. Its allies fill the op-ed pages with similar dreck, catering to the audience for politically correct, left-wing clickbait. The polemical onslaught is false and obnoxious. But it gets results, driving an Israel-shaped wedge into the Democratic Party and forcing Biden to step up his calls for a ceasefire.
This unappeasable hostility is a problem for Israel, for America, and for the Democratic Party. It makes me wonder if the head of the DNC has checked in lately with his British counterpart. There hasn’t been a Labour prime minister since 2010 and Labour just experienced another drubbing in local elections. Labour’s current leader has been trying to salvage his party’s reputation from the wreckage of his far-left anti-Semitic predecessor Jeremy Corbyn. It’s a struggle.
Explanation? Under Corbyn, Labour went hard left, abandoning its traditional working-class constituency for progressive social and cultural issues that appeal to the university crowd and the Very Online but turn off everyone else. Corbyn opposed Brexit, supported high levels of immigration, embraced political correctness, and tolerated the worst sort of anti-Semitism in his campaigns against Israel. The Socialist International became the Socialist Intersectional (Jews excluded).
The same process is well underway here. Not content with tearing down America, and energized by the cultural revolution of 2020, the Jackal Bins turn their gaze on the Jewish State. Anti-Semitism dogged the anti-Trump Women’s March. Black Lives Matter, which recently tweeted its advocacy for “Palestinian liberation”—no mention of Hamas’ genocidal intent—supports the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib require no introduction. Comedian Trevor Noah irresponsibly likens Hamas to a powerless four-year-old. The haters can’t believe their success.
Someone needs to disappoint them. As long as Hamas remains in power, Israel will be forced to defend itself. The Jewish State’s position in American politics can’t be allowed to deteriorate further. Not just for Israel’s sake. For ours.
By now most armchair pundits and faux Mideast experts have chimed in on the violence in Israel and Gaza. Some of the most frivolous comments come from misguided hyper woke celebrities and athletes who seek to establish their expertise when they know virtually nothing. For example, Trevor Noah, on MSNBC’s Joy Reid show claimed “Jewish Supremacy” was the cause of the violence, rather than the thousands of rockets aimed at Israeli civilians. To be clear, they are not misguided for feeling sympathy for the Palestinians living in Gaza, but rather, they are cartoonishly misguided for blaming Israel for the suffering.
The Israel/Palestinian conflict is among the most vexing foreign policy issues. However, there is nothing complex about the need to recognize that Hamas deserves absolute culpability for the suffering of average Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. I say “average” because poverty, unemployment and illiteracy are rampant in Gaza, but not among the Hamas elite.
Hamas has a specific and obvious raison d’être — to kill as many Jews as possible. No mind reading is required to know this — it is Hamas’ explicitly stated goal. They spend most of their foreign aid money not on much needed infrastructure, COVID vaccinations, or education. Instead, their priority is building illegal smuggling tunnels from which they launch attacks, and unguided rocket technology from Iran to indiscriminately target Israeli civilians.
Hamas prefers using the money it receives from well-meaning nations including the US, and many European and Middle Eastern nations to launch attacks, murder homosexuals, oppress women, and prevent truly democratic institutions from taking root. If you doubt this, try going to Gaza when things settle down and attempt to form a new political party that supports equal rights for women and homosexuals and that actually seeks peace.
Before the George W. Bush years, Hamas was a rogue terror group with no official power. However, the unintended consequences of the Bush foreign policy of rightly condemning the PLO/Arafat regime for rampant corruption and an unwillingness to make peace, unfortunately led to the election of Hamas in Gaza. Thus, the only time Gazans were afforded an actual choice began Hamas’ reign of terror.
Since those faithful years, Palestinians have been living in a prison of their own making. In fact, a significant percentage of Hamas rockets fired at Israel did not even make it to Israel from Gaza, killing or injuring many Palestinians. This is, of course, of no consequence to Hamas leaders who see average Gazans as pawns to manipulate in order to maintain power. But it is even more troubling that liberal celebrities and media organizations don’t care and end up acting as a shield to the monstrous actions of Hamas.
No matter how pro-Palestinian one may be, to normalize the actions of Hamas, as so many liberal journalists are doing (and a few folks among the alt-Right), is to directly oppose and fight against the hope of a better future for Gazans.
As usual, support for Israel is nearly unanimous among the GOP. While some Republicans want foreign aid generally reduced across the board as a budgetary matter, none would disagree with Israel’s inherent right to self-defense.
This is juxtaposed to an increasingly hostile Democratic Party who once were part of the bedrock support of Israel. Now, its Middle East policy is increasingly driven by younger Democrats who are extremely woke and see Israel as the automatic aggressor, regardless of the facts. For some reason Hamas escapes any real blame.
Over the last few years of President Trump’s term, the world saw a flowering of new peace arrangements between Israel and Arab nations, including but not limited to the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Morocco. Amazingly, UAE officials have threatened to cut investment in Gaza if Hamas does not immediately commit to complete calm. They have admitted what many have known for some time, that Hamas policies are hurting the people of Gaza. This is a far more enlightened understanding than that of the Washington Post or foreign policy professors at Harvard University.
The irony is that during this time of immense political and security challenges facing Israel, it is the Republicans who stand steadfast with our ally Israel. As Democratic support for Israel continues to wane, even “pro-Israel” Democrats are more apt to criticize the GOP for “making the Israel issue political” rather than criticizing their own for being increasingly radical and woke while ignoring fact.
For Israel, the choice is the same today as it was decades ago when Golda Meir said: “If we have to choose between being dead and pitied, and being alive with a bad image, we’d rather be alive and have the bad image.”
by Caroline Glick • RealClearPolitics
The US has striven to achieve peaceable relations between the states of the Middle East for nearly 70 years. Yet today, US government is disparaging the burgeoning strategic ties between the Sunni Arab states and Israel.
In a briefing to a delegation of visiting Israeli diplomatic correspondents in Washington last week, a senior Obama administration official sneered that the only noticeable shift in Israel-Arab relations in recent years is that the current Egyptian government has been coordinating security issues “more closely” with Jerusalem than the previous one did.
“But we have yet to see that change materialize in the Gulf.”
If this is how the US views the state of Israel’s relations with the Arabs, then Israel should consider canceling its intelligence cooperation with the US. Because apparently, the Americans haven’t a clue what is happening in the Middle East.
First of all, to characterize the transformation of Israeli-Egyptian relations as a mere question of “more closely” coordinating on security issues is to vastly trivialize what has happened over the past two years. Continue reading
Lessons Learned? Or Repeating the Same Mistakes?
by George Landrith • Frontiers of Freedom
When Ronald Reagan was asked what his plan was for dealing with the communist threat, he responded, “We win, they lose.” Those four words led to an impressive victory for human freedom around the world. To this day, there are boulevards named after Reagan all over the world in nations that were once dominated and enslaved by communism’s hatred of freedom and lust for control.
In an extemporaneous moment at ground zero, President George Bush said, “I can hear you! The rest of the world hears you! And the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon!” Because reasonable people can argue in good faith with some of Bush’s decisions in his efforts to protect America, it is perhaps too easy to forget or even ignore some of the unassailable truths we learned or were reminded of on September 1, 2001.
First, America has enemies because America stands for freedom. We can waste time in self-flagellation trying to figure out why murderous hate-filled terrorist troglodytes hate us and we can even blame ourselves for their hateful, murderous actions. But we should accept the undeniable truth is that we attract the hatred of those who hate freedom. Continue reading
US administration officials stop missile transfer, order all future transfers to be scrutinized in sign of further cooling ties.
by Ari Yashar • Arutz Sheva
A new report reveals that US President Barack Obama’s administration stopped a shipment of missiles to Israel late last month and tightened weapons shipment procedures to Israel, as tensions between the two nations grow amid Operation Protective Edge.
The report in the Wall Street Journal, released Wednesday night, cites US officials in Obama’s administration, who say they discovered Israel had requested a large number of Hellfire missiles directly through military-to-military channels. An initial batch of the missiles was about to be shipped, according to sources in Israel and the US Congress. Continue reading
by Peter Huessy
Cranky opponents of the Iron Dome Israeli missile defense claim the system doesn’t work. Some in the arms control community have latched on to such criticism to smear missile defense work in general especially that in the United States.
What happened then to the nearly 3000 Hamas rocket warheads that if not intercepted largely landed somewhere in Israel? The same critics say not only did Iron Dome not work, but the Hamas rocket warheads didn’t work either! Continue reading
by Uzi Rubin • Reuters
While the troops of Israel’s Air Defense Command are blasting Grad and Fajr rockets shot from Gaza out of the sky with success, there are an obsessive few who try to blast Iron Dome’s evident achievements into oblivion. They insist on trivializing the missile-defense system’s rock-solid record because the facts don’t fit their theory that no missile defense system can ever work.
The chief Iron Dome scold is Ted Postol of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a professor with academic standing but no experience in designing or managing the development of modern missile systems. Continue reading
U.S. Senator John Thune (R-South Dakota), Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, today joined several of his Republican colleagues in reaffirming their support for Israel, America’s friend and ally, and its sovereign right to defend itself against Hamas: Continue reading
by Dr. Laurie Ann Mylroie
President Obama’s handling of the Gaza conflict marks a sharp break with his attitude toward other Middle East conflicts, as well as the policies of previous U.S. presidents. In contrast to Obama’s lethargic and indifferent response toward such calamities as the Syrian regime’s serial massacres of its own population or threats like the Islamic State’s consolidation of control over large swathes of Iraq and Syria, Obama is exercised about the conflict in Gaza, and he has shocked Israelis across the political spectrum with his demand—made Sunday in a phone conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu—for an “immediate, unconditional, humanitarian” cease-fire. However, a cease-fire for whatever purpose has a determining impact on the military situation, and the cease-fire Obama demanded would have stopped the Israelis from achieving a key objective—the destruction of Hamas’ “terror tunnels.” Continue reading