US Lawmakers Advance Measures to Block Aid to Hamas
The House Foreign Affairs Committee approved legislation on Wednesday targeting the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas.
The approved measures include the Palestinian International Terrorism Support Prevention Act (H.R. 2712), which will impose sanctions to cut off support for Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
“Iran and Hezbollah are clearly working to extend their influence over Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip through increased financial and military aid,” said US Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) The new measure seeks to curb that practice.
The State Department designated Hamas as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) in 1997, and the Treasury Department named it a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) in 2001. So far, Hamas has been responsible for the deaths of 400 Israelis and at least 25 Americans.
Royce, chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, held Iran accountable for Hamas’ control of the Gaza Strip for the past decade. “Iran is also why Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad have thousands of missiles and rockets, and continue digging tunnels of terror under the border with Israel,” he said.
The bill also focuses on the “significant financial and military support” that Hamas receives from Qatar, including the government-supported Al Jazeera news network, which has provided a platform to senior Hamas leaders, including Khaled Meshaal.
Another bill that was approved by the Foreign Affairs Committee is the Taylor Force Act (H.R. 1164), which will block US financial aid to the Palestinian Authority (PA) until it stops paying families of suicide bombers and Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. Under the Obama administration, the US payments to the Palestinian leadership averaged $400 million per year — and they have so far continued under President Trump. The bill is named after an American officer who was murdered by a Palestinian terrorist in Israel in March 2016.
The third piece of legislation advanced by the committee is called the Hamas Human Shields Prevention Act (H.R. 3542). It denounces Hamas for using civilians, prisoners of war and other noncombatants as human shields, and seeks to sanction the terrorist group for this reprehensible practice.