The United States Senate has unanimously passed a bipartisan bill that would enact sanctions on those who use civilians as human shields as a tactic of war, including terror groups such as Hamas, Hezbollah, Al Qaeda, and ISIS.
In a press release on Friday, the office of Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee who together with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) introduced the bill, said “The use of human shields is barbaric and illegal, and terrorist groups – including Hamas and Hezbollah – must be held responsible when they engage in this reprehensible practice.”
The bill, called the Sanctioning the Use of Civilians as Defenseless Shields Act, was co-sponsored by 50 other senators, including Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), and David Perdue (R-Ga.). It will now be headed to the House of Representatives for a vote.
“I commend the Senate for unanimously passing our bipartisan bill,” Cruz said on Friday. “Terrorist groups, including Iranian proxies such as Hamas and Hezbollah, have made the use of human shields a routine tactic. This bill signals to the rest of the world that America will hold accountable anyone who uses civilians as shields to achieve military ends, as well as their enablers. I encourage the House to come together and pass our bill as soon as possible.”
The bill requires and gives the President authority to identify and impose sanctions on a foreign individual, who is a member of or acting on behalf of terrorist groups and “who knowingly orders, controls, or otherwise directs the use of civilians protected as such by the law of war to shield military objectives from attack.”
When announcing their support for the legislation, several senators explicitly singled out the Iranian-backed terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah for the use of human shields.
“Terrorist organizations like Hamas in Gaza continue their efforts to kill and terrorize innocent civilians while using human shields in the process, showing their utter disregard for human life,” Rubio observed.
His colleague, Scott added, “We know these and many other terrorists have little regard for human life, and they need to be sent a strong message that the use of human shields will not be tolerated.”
Perdue observed that “These terrorists have turned schools into arsenals, hospitals into targets, and are even using children and adults as human shields.” He continued: “Pure evil is the only way to describe these heinous actions, and this new sanctions category will give the United States Treasury Department another tool to cut off Hamas and Hezbollah from the global community.”
On Thursday, the Senate also approved with bipartisan sponsorship a bill sanctioning funders or those who provide resources to Hezbollah. The legislation, called the Hizballah International Financing Prevention Amendments Act of 2017, imposes sanctions on government entities that support the organization’s armed wing. In addition, the bill targets companies or individuals, who aid Hezbollah’s fundraising or recruitment efforts, as well as imposing sanctions on the terror group itself.
In an op-ed published in the Boston Herald in June 2017, Joshua S. Block, CEO and President of The Israel Project, warned that the Iranian proxy force was preparing for new attacks against Israel with human shields.
“A significant part of Hezbollah’s military infrastructure is embedded in civilian areas. Rockets, bombs and rifles are placed under homes, schools and hospitals with the grim intention that, if Israel needs to take out Hezbollah’s arsenals in a preventive strike, the operation will lead to mass civilian casualties,” Block warned.
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