Cotton calls for destruction of Hamas


WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton called Friday for the destruction of Hamas as a House panel endorsed pro-Israeli resolutions drafted in response to a vote by the UN Human Rights Council to launch an inquiry of possible Israeli human rights violations in Gaza.

“Hamas must be destroyed,” said Cotton, R-Dardanelle. “These terrorists have no regard for human life. They commit war crimes every day by firing rockets and missiles and mortars at Israeli citizens, which they site at the homes and the mosques and the hospitals and the churches of their civilians.”

Cotton issued his condemnation of Hamas during a meeting of the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa. The panel approved by voice vote two resolutions that now move to the full committee for its consideration. One would condemn the murder of Israeli and Palestinian children in Israel that sparked the latest escalation of violence in the region. The second would denounce Hamas for using civilians as human shields.

Rep. Ilena Ros-Lehtinen, R-Calif., who chairs the subcommittee, said the resolutions were timely and important given a vote Wednesday by the UN Human Rights Council opening an investigation into violations of human rights and international laws in Palestinian areas.

“It is extremely vital that the U.S. Congress serve as a counterweight to those who seek to delegitimize Israel by pushing a false moral equivalency measure,” she said. “Make no mistake there is no equivalency whatsoever between Israel and Hamas, a United States designated terrorist organization.”

The panel met for about half an hour to discuss the resolutions with Democrats and Republicans speaking in favor. No one voiced opposition.

Cotton defended Israel’s response to the rocket attacks that Hamas has launched against it.”

“The Israeli defense force is the most moral, humanitarian fighting force in the world alongside the fighting force of the United States,” he said. “Rather than trying to pressure Israel in any way, the United States should be standing by Israel along with so many other Middle Eastern governments in their efforts to destroy Hamas. I am proud to support these resolutions, and I would reiterate that Hamas must be destroyed.”

The UN Human Rights Council voted 29-1 to launch their inquiry. The United States opposed it, and 16 nations abstained.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay issued a statement in support of the resolution saying that since July 7 more than 600 Palestinians — including at least 147 children and 74 women — have died in Gaza as a result of escalating hostilities that includes more than 2,100 Israeli air strikes.

“It is innocent civilians in the Gaza Strip, including children, women, the elderly and persons with disabilities, who are suffering the most,” Pillay said.

Pillay also condemned the indiscriminate rocket attacks that Hamas has launched against Israel and stressed that it is unacceptable to locate military assets in densely populated areas.

The latest outbreak of hostilities began with the killing of three Israeli youth — Eyal Yifrach, 19, and Gil-ad Sha’er and Naftali Frankel, both 16 — whose bodies were found in a shallow grave near Hebron. And, the subsequent murder on July 2 of Mohammed Abu Khdeir, 16, of East Jerusalem in retaliation.