Friday, April 19, 2024

Lankford pens op-ed on why the US must continue to stand with Israel

Continue to pray for peace in Jerusalem

In the past six months, the Iranian regime has launched thousands of rockets at Israel through its proxies: Hamas, Hezbollah and the Houthis. Iran has also launched hundreds of attacks on American forces in Syria, Iraq and Yemen. Now, Iran has directly attacked Israel.

In addition to the ongoing threat now hurled at Israel from Iran, the US should clearly oppose the violence of Hamas terrorists and support the freedom for every hostage in Gaza. Some in Washington, DC, and around the world have forgotten that the current war in the Middle East started on Oct. 7 when Israel was brutally attacked by Hamas terrorists on the Jewish holiday of Shemini Atzeret. 

During the week of Easter, I joined several of my colleagues for a congressional oversight trip to Israel. During the travel around the country and in each meeting, it was clear that everyone wants a peaceful end to the conflict as soon as possible, but they also do not want to live in fear each day of the next Hamas terrorist attack from Gaza, Hezbollah rockets from Lebanon, Houthi missiles from Yemen — and now one-way attack drones, ballistic missiles and cruise missiles from Iran.

The war could end tomorrow, if all of the hostages were released and the terrorists hiding among the civilians in Gaza were arrested.

I visited towns in Israel that border Egypt and Gaza, toured the destroyed Kibbutz Nir Oz in southern Israel, met with the survivors and families of the hostages and then visited the Nova Music Festival site, where hundreds of people were murdered on Oct. 7. I also spent a day in the Golan Heights along the northern border with Syria and Lebanon, where 63,000 Israelis have been forced from their homes because of the continued rocket attacks from Hezbollah.

I met privately with Israel’s minister of strategic affairs, the speaker of the Knesset, local mayors and community leaders, both Israeli and Palestinian. As the co-chair of the Senate Abraham Accords Caucus, I also addressed members of Israel’s Knesset in a special meeting with the Abraham Accords Peace Institute.

I made it clear to Israeli leadership that the US considers Israel our ally and friend. We stand with them in their fight against terrorist organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah, who have shown that they do not care about murdering innocent civilians. In the US our military shelters civilians from the violence of war. In Gaza, Hamas puts its military underground and uses civilians to shelter the terrorists.

International news fails to report that Hezbollah continues to fire rockets into civilian areas in northern Israel. Thousands of people have evacuated, and multiple people in Israel have been killed as a result of the attacks from southern Lebanon. Ironically, the United Nations voted years ago for UN Resolution 1701 to force Hezbollah to demilitarize the Lebanese-Israeli border. Then the world ignored the military buildup in southern Lebanon, which allowed the Hezbollah terror army to threaten Israel each day.

Tenuous or weak support for Israel sends a message to Iran and its proxies that they can just wait out America and we will abandon our ally Israel. We should not even hint that America will ignore the atrocities Hamas committed six months ago. We can speak up for the protection of every civilian on both sides of the border and still stand against terrorism.

As a member of the Senate Intelligence and Homeland Security Committees, I know well how vital our productive relationships with the Israelis have been for our defense and national security needs as well as our allies. In my role with Senator Jacky Rosen, a Democrat from Nevada, on the Senate Abraham Accords Caucus, I continue to work for positive relationships among the US Israel and our other allies in the Middle East.

As a Christian, it was truly humbling and awe-inspiring to join the Easter sunrise service at the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem. Early that resurrection Sunday morning, we stopped to pray for peace.

I hope you will join me in continuing to pray for peace in the Middle East.


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