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Bills condemning Hamas on ‘human shields’ introduced in Congress

WASHINGTON (JTA) – Resolutions under consideration in Congress that condemn Hamas for placing its weapons and fighters close to civilians have strong bipartisan support.

The House non-binding resolution condemning Hamas for using civilians as “human shields” during the current Gaza conflict, introduced July 16 by Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), the chairwoman of the House’s Middle East subcommittee, and Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), its ranking Democrat, so far has 64 co-sponsors. Ros-Lehtinen mentioned the bill to cheers in an appearance Monday at a national rally of Jewish leaders.

Similar resolutions have been introduced in recent days in the Senate, one by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and another by Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas).

The sponsors of the House resolution also initiated a letter sent this week to Navi Pillay, the top U.N. human rights official, urging her and the U.N. Human Rights Council to condemn Hamas’ use of civilians as shields. The letter was signed by over 100 lawmakers.

“The United Nations Human Rights Council simply cannot be taken seriously as a human rights organization when it establishes a commission of inquiry to unjustly probe alleged war crimes and violations of international law by the nation defending its citizens from rocket attacks and terror tunnels, rather than the terrorist group whose depravity makes a policy of using its citizens as human shields while its terror commanders flee to fortified bunkers,” the letter said.

The U.N. Human Rights Council last week called for an inquiry into possible war crimes in the Gaza Strip. Pillay in her remarks at the July 23 session said it was “unacceptable to locate military assets in densely populated areas or to launch attacks from such areas,” but added, “the actions of one party did not absolve the other party of the need to respect its obligations under international law.”

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