This is a speech given by Senator Jon Kyl on the floor of the Senate January 6, concerning a Resolution on Gaza. It was adopted by the Senate on the eighth.
Senator Kyl is a Presbyterian attending Valley Presbyterian Church, Paradise Valley, AZ.
I think the information in this speech is extremely informative and important.
GAZA RESOLUTION -- (Senate - January 06, 2009)
Mr. KYL. "Mr. President, I hope--and I am joined here by Senator Lieberman--that the Senate will have an opportunity to consider before this week is out a resolution we believe has been drafted by the majority leader and the minority leader that deals with the ongoing war in the Gaza Strip and that we believe needs to express the will of the Senate. We believe as well that a similar resolution would be voted on in the House of Representatives to express the will of the House. So then the whole world--and certainly the administration--would know of this body's strong support for the State of Israel and our support for the actions Israel is taking right now. We hope that vote can occur before this week is out. I wish to commend Senator Lieberman for his considerable leadership on this issue.
We support this resolution. The first thing the resolution does is to remind people why the State of Israel had to act.
Last February, on a trip to the Middle East, I visited the Israeli town of Sderot, which is about 3 miles from the border of Gaza, and I learned from the town's mayor of the toll taken on the residents of this town and neighboring cities from more than 8 years of rocket attacks by the Hamas terrorists. At the police station, I saw rack after rack of these spent rockets, the remains of the rockets that had been launched by Hamas against the civilian population of this city. In fact, about 15 minutes after we departed the city, one of these Hamas launched a Qassam rocket--identical to the hundreds we had seen at the police station--which fell on an Israeli home in town, destroying it. Thankfully, no one in that attack was harmed.
Is there any doubt that if the United States were suffering an attack from just across the border similar to this, that we wouldn't react to stop that from happening? I think there is no question that we would act to stop this terrorism. It is our hope that the resolution would express our acknowledgment that a nation has the right to defend itself, that Israel has had to respond to this, to more than 6,300 rocket and mortar attacks on its citizens since it fully withdrew from Gaza in the year 2005. In fact, this town has been suffering for over 8 years from these attacks.
The second point the resolution makes is that there is no equivalency between the actions of Hamas and Israel in this case. Israel conducts its military operations to spare innocent life. They have specifically targeted Hamas command centers and security installations and rocket-launching sites, weapons stockpiles, and weapons smuggling tunnels. They have tried very hard to avoid civilian casualties. In fact, Israel has transmitted very specific warnings to Gazans. They have dropped leaflets and made phone calls to targeted areas to warn citizens to leave because an attack is imminent. This, of course, even means they lose the element of surprise and potentially put the lives of Israeli soldiers at risk. But Israel believes it is important where possible to avoid jeopardizing innocent life--quite the opposite from Hamas, which deliberately and cynically fires rockets from civilian areas to make it more difficult for Israel to target the terrorists and to increase the likelihood of civilian casualties when Israel does take action.
Hamas has ignored a plea by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on April 28 that:
Civilian areas in Gaza should not be used as a base from which to launch its actions against Israel.
Dozens of mosques in Gaza have been turned into weapons storage facilities and Hamas command centers. In fact, an airstrike on a mosque in the Tel El Hawa neighborhood of Gaza City last Wednesday set off numerous secondary explosions caused by the arms that had been stockpiled in the mosque.
Finally, Hamas openly admits that it uses women and children as human shields. A leading member of Hamas told Al-Aqsa TV on February 29, 2008:
'For the Palestinian people, death has become an industry ..... This is why they have formed human shields of the women, the children, the elderly, and the mujahedeen, in order to challenge the Zionist bombing machine.'
While targeting terrorists, Israel works to avoid a humanitarian crisis for ordinary Gazans as well. During the first week of Israel's operations, it facilitated the delivery to Gaza of 400 trucks loaded with more than 2,000 tons of food and medicine. This is not easy when you are in the middle of military operations. Ten ambulances and two thousand blood units were transferred to Gaza just in that week. More than 80 Palestinians have entered Egypt for treatment, in addition to a dozen or more who have entered Israel. On January 5, more than 93,000 gallons of industrial diesel fuel and gasoline for vehicles was transferred into Gaza from a fuel depot in Israel. By the way, that fuel depot comes under constant attack from terrorists in Gaza, as does the place where the electricity is generated for Gaza, which, of course, makes absolutely no sense.
Finally, this resolution speaks to calls for a cease-fire. Many voices in the so-called international community have been heard pleading for an immediate cease-fire, although I think it is instructive that one never hears those voices condemning rocket attacks by Hamas terrorists.
I believe the path to a halt in the violence is clear. A cease-fire is appropriate if and when it is durable and sustainable. A cease-fire, on the other hand, that would allow Hamas to rearm and rebuild its support in Gaza is, of course, not acceptable. Hamas cannot be given a cease-fire that only serves to provide it breathing room to regroup and then a month or 2 months or 3 months from now start firing its rockets and missiles again.
The United Nations could play a constructive role, but it must resist the temptation that it all too often falls into, and that is that of moral equivalency. I point to the press statement of the Security Council on December 28 which, among other things, said the parties should ``stop immediately all military activities.'' This is dangerous moral equivalency. Only one party to the violence carries out ``military activities.'' The other party--Hamas--terrorizes and murders innocent people. That is why the only Security Council resolution that could be acceptable in this situation--and I say this with the understanding that the Security Council is meeting as we meet here today--is one that affirms Israel's right to defend itself and calls on Hamas to immediately stop its terrorist activity.
I add that a Security Council resolution should look to all of those who support Hamas--primarily and most significantly Iran. For years, Iran has been the source of money, training--including training at the facilities of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in Iran itself--and weapons to Hamas. Hamas's relationship with Iran is so close that the Egyptian President said this past May that Hamas rule in Gaza means that Egypt has a "border with Iran.''
Since Israel launched its military operation against Hamas, Iran has announced stepped-up arms shipments. Senior Iranian clerics have organized recruiting drives to send Iranians to Hamas's aid. Just yesterday, a senior Iranian cleric announced that it had recruited 7,000 Iranians to join the cause of Hamas. Yet the international community has taken no action to counter Iran's support of Hamas terrorists.
A U.N. Security Council resolution sanctioning Iran for its assistance to Hamas would send an important message and would be a good place to start, as would unilateral sanctions by the United States.
Let me conclude by quoting the Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer, who recently wrote one of the most precise and succinct observations on the situation in Gaza that I have read. He wrote:
Some geopolitical conflicts are morally complicated. The Israel-Gaza war is not. It possesses a moral clarity not only rare, but excruciating.
The Reid-McConnell resolution we expect to be introduced shortly will be an important reaffirmation of the bond between Israel and the United States. It is one forged on the basis of common values and the tragically shared experience of terrorism. By passing this resolution, we are saying to the Israeli people: We stand with you, and we support you in defending yourselves against terrorist attacks."
I have added a couple of quote marks into the document where they were needed.