WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Reps. Mike Gallagher (R-Wisc.), Thomas Suozzi (D-N.Y.), Joe Wilson (R-S.C.), and Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) applauded the House’s passage of the Sanctioning the Use of Civilians as Defenseless Shields Act (H.R. 3342) to impose sanctions on Hezbollah and Hamas for their use of civilians as human shields. The Cruz-authored legislation now goes to the President’s desk to be signed into law.
“I am proud to have worked alongside my colleagues in Congress to hold groups that use human shields accountable, including Iran-backed groups like Hezbollah, Hamas, and the Houthis” Sen. Cruz said. “For years Hezbollah has used civilian infrastructure in Lebanon to store and launch rockets at Israeli civilians, and in recent weeks we’ve learned they also use homes to hide the entrances of tunnels dug under Israel’s northern border to attack Israeli homes. Hamas engages in the same practices. The international community has failed to hold these groups accountable, and last week the United Nations refused to pass a non-binding resolution condemning Hamas. The United States is sending a message that it will not turn a blind eye to terrorist war crimes the way the United Nations does, that those who use civilians as human shields are the ones responsible for endangering civilians, and that they will be held accountable.”
“As a threat to American interests and our ally Israel, Hizbollah and Hamas must be held accountable for endangering the lives of innocent civilians. The use of human shields is an affront to our values and international norms, and this bill will authorize the U.S. to impose consequences on those who engage in such gross violations of human rights. I thank my colleagues for offering this legislation that will now become law,” said U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-TN), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
“Since their creation, groups like Hizballah and Hamas have been dedicated to destroying Israel and combating American interests in the Middle East. Of all the malign activities of these groups, few are more reprehensible or dangerous than their use of civilians as human shields. This bipartisan legislation sends a clear signal that the United States will not tolerate this behavior. I thank my colleagues in both the House and Senate for their hard work on this bill, and I look forward to seeing the President sign this important legislation,” said Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wisc.).
“This bill will help to protect Israel from two groups that shamelessly use civilians as human shields. Hezbollah stashes its deadly arsenal in hospitals, mosques and homes in Lebanon. Hamas does the same in Gaza. These are flagrant war crimes committed by terrorist groups committed to the destruction of an American ally. They also endanger millions of innocent civilians in Lebanon and Gaza. I am grateful for the support of my colleagues that have joined to support this important legislation imposing sanctions,” said Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-N.Y.).
“Terrorist organizations like Hamas and Hizballah must be stopped from using innocent lives as human shields. This is a clear violation of international humanitarian law. In addition, malicious and provocative acts against our friends and allies in Israel have intensified as we have seen Hizballah tunneling into their sovereign nation. As a part of H.R. 3342, I was grateful to lead the Hamas Human Shields Prevention Act. Through these pieces of legislation, we were able to combine efforts to sanction Hizballah and Hamas for threatening Israel and regional security. I’m grateful to Congressman Mike Gallagher for his leadership on this matter, and I look forward to our continued work together. We will not allow these terrorist organizations to indiscriminately use innocent Palestinians as human shields without reproach from the international community,” said Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.).
“The use of human shields is a clear human rights violation. This bill ensures that members of Hamas who put civilians in harm’s way are sanctioned for their actions. We have a moral obligation to hold Hamas accountable and I’m proud to support this bipartisan effort,” said Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.).
The Sanctioning the Use of Civilians as Defenseless Shields Act would:
- Require the President to identify and impose sanctions on each foreign person who is a member of or acting on behalf of Hezbollah and Hamas 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, as well as each foreign person, agency, or instrumentality of a foreign state that knowingly and materially supports, orders, controls, directs, or otherwise engages in such actions; and
- Give the President authority to identify and impose sanctions on each foreign person 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.
In 2014, Sen. Cruz led a bipartisan, bicameral resolution that unanimously passed Congress condemning Hamas for using human shields and supporting Israel’s right to defend itself.