Recently, I had the opportunity to lead a congressional delegation to Jerusalem for the opening of the U.S. embassy. During our visit, The Jerusalem Post front page was “Promises Made, Promises Kept,” with a picture of President Trump. Sadly, while the United States was keeping its promise to Israel and the American people, Hamas terrorists were continuing their attack on the Israeli border, using firebombs tied to kites (with Nazi swastikas on them), Molotov cocktails and other explosive devices. These attacks, including tunnels, murderous kidnappings and the knifing of American tourist Taylor Force, have been conducted for nearly 30 years and were not provoked by the president’s courage in opening the embassy in Jerusalem.
The U.S. media used the juxtaposition of these two scenes to depict Israel and America as heartless, instead of focusing on the murderous terrorists attacking a sovereign nation. You do not bring Molotov cocktails to a peaceful protest and you do not bring children to a protest that is a site of many violent attacks. Additionally, you do not bring 40,000 protesters to 13 different points along a nation’s border and attempt to break in, wreak havoc and murder innocent civilians without expecting a response.
Hamas even used loudspeakers during the attacks to provoke demonstrators to push forward through the fence, and even lied about Israeli soldiers fleeing to urge demonstrators to continue their charging attacks on the fence.
After the siege, Hamas used the tragic deaths of children along the border as a propaganda tool to further its anti-Semitic cause. The bottom line is Hamas does not want Israel to exist. That is Hamas terrorists’ primary goal and every action they take should be evaluated with that in mind.
Unfortunately, the media take the bait every time, with headlines after the Hamas attack such as “Hamas has launched another war. Israel needs a better response” in The Washington Post, “Uneasy Calm Falls Over Gaza After Israel Kills Scores at Protests” in The New York Times, and “Israel defends Gaza crackdown as Palestinians bury their dead” from CNN. In these titles is the implicit opinion that Israel is guilty, and Hamas is innocent — the exact propaganda and fake news that promotes Hamas’ murderous agenda.
Two days after the siege on Israel’s border, Hamas acknowledged that 50 of the 60 people killed during the protests were members of the terrorist organization.
What Hamas likely won’t admit is that the other Palestinians who died during this altercation were used as human shields to protect the terrorists. They are seen as martyrs to Hamas, people who had to die for the cause. To me, they are victims of murderous terrorists that will mercilessly use their bodies for cover and then toss them aside once that purpose has been fulfilled.
Hamas conducted its first attack against Israel in 1989, two years after the organization was founded in Gaza. Its terrorists began using suicide bombs against Israelis in 1993. The U.S. State Department designated Hamas a terrorist organization in 1997. Since 2001, Hamas has launched countless rocket attacks at Israel.
In 2005, Israel left Gaza to the Palestinian people, to elect their own government and maintain their own borders, with Israel still supplying water and electricity. Regrettably, Hamas became the terrorist political party in power in 2007 and has continued to conduct terrorist attacks ever since. Hamas continues to reject Israel’s right to exist and argues that the Holocaust never occurred, and the organization continues to receive funding from the rogue regime in Iran.
In the days prior to the recent attacks, Hamas passed out maps of the fastest routes to get to Israeli communities, in case demonstrators were able to get through the fence. The objective was and is clear: the complete destruction of the state of Israel and the murder of innocent Israeli citizens.
While the United States and the rest of the peaceful world prefer that Israel and the Palestinians in Gaza resolve their differences nonviolently, Hamas continuously chooses to conduct its attacks from mosques, schools and hospitals to kill as many innocent people on both sides people as possible.
This is why I introduced H.R. 3542, the Hamas Human Shields Prevention Act, which is designed to condemn and sanction Hamas for turning its own citizens, including children, into human shields. In February, the U.S. House of Representatives passed this bill unanimously, 415-0.
The global community can do more to save the lives of innocent Palestinians suffering under Hamas. Other countries should pass their own laws sanctioning terrorists who employ human shields. The rest of the world should enhance their sanctions on Hamas, sanctioning both its military and political divisions.
We cannot continue to allow this terrorist organization to indiscriminately use innocent Palestinians as human shields without reproach from the international community.
• Joe Wilson is a Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives from South Carolina.