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Bipartisan Bill Sanctioning Hamas, Hezbollah for Using Human Shields Passes Congress

The United States House of Representatives on Tuesday passed, with strong bipartisan support, legislation which targets members of Hamas and Hezbollah responsible for the use of human shields, a war crime under international law, The Jerusalem Post reported.

The legislation, titled the Sanctioning of the Use of Civilians as Defenseless Shields Act (H.R. 3342), which was drafted jointly by Democrats and Republicans, must now be signed by U.S. President Donald Trump in order to become law.

The bill imposes sanctions on members of Iranian-backed terrorist organizations, Hamas and Hezbollah, who use civilians as human shields in military confrontations with Israel, as well as agencies of states that aid the groups in doing so. The bipartisan bill was authored by Reps. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) and Tom Suozzi (D-N.Y.). It found that Hezbollah “utilized human shields to protect themselves from counterattacks by Israeli forces, including storing weapons inside civilian homes and firing rockets from inside populated civilian areas” and has amassed an arsenal of “over 150,000 missiles.”

In an op-ed published in The Boston Herald in June 2017, Joshua S. Block, CEO and President of The Israel Project, warned that “a significant part of Hezbollah’s military infrastructure is embedded in civilian areas” with the aim that “if Israel needs to take out Hezbollah’s arsenals in a preventive strike, the operation will lead to mass civilian casualties.”

The Senate passed the legislation, introduced by Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), on October 11, 2018 by unanimous consent and sent it to the House. This bill was co-sponsored by 50 Senators on both sides of the aisle reflecting a strong bipartisan commitment to Israel’s security.

The same week, the Senate 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 House has passed several bills that are awaiting movement in the Senate that would advance the security of the Jewish State and confront anti-Semitic movements, including the Combatting BDS Act, the Israel Anti-Boycott Act, and the US-Israel Security Assistance Authorization Act.

[Photo: soccerdhg / Flickr ]