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Illinois elected officials support Israel's right to defend its citizens

Statements issued by members of the Illinois Congressional delegation regarding the situation in Israel and Gaza.

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin:
“I understand and support Israel’s defense of its borders from rocket attacks by Hamas. This defense has led to an escalation of violence and more death and suffering by innocent people on both sides. This crisis can only end with a ceasefire and honest negotiations for peace. The Palestinian people deserve leadership that is committed to bringing an end to this violence.”

U.S. Rep. Jerry Costello:
“For the past several years, Israelis living near Gaza have endured a continual state of fear due to the thousands of rocket attacks launched from there by Hamas. When the six-month cease fire between Hamas and Israel recently ended, Hamas responded almost immediately by firing more than 70 missiles at civilian targets within Israel.  On December 27th, Israel, in an act of self defense, struck at Hamas targets in Gaza in response to these continued attacks, and I want to express my strong support for Israel’s right of self-defense.
“Israel has taken meaningful steps in recent years to push the peace process forward, including unilaterally withdrawing from Gaza in 2005. Unfortunately, Hamas has not met Israel’s efforts towards a peaceful coexistence, and has instead increased military operations against its neighbor and continues to deny Israel’s right to exist. 
“These unfortunate developments are tragic, but have been precipitated by Hamas’ aggression.  Hamas must stop the rocket attacks and all parties in the region need to commit to renewing efforts at peace. The U.S. should remain involved in the peace process and I will continue to work with my colleagues in Congress towards this goal.”

U.S. Rep. Phil Hare:
“I am troubled by the violence in Gaza and deeply regret the loss of innocent life on both sides of the conflict. But Israel’s recent military action is not only appropriate, it is necessary to stop acts of terrorism against its citizens. For two years, Hamas has fired rockets into Israel, putting nearly a million people at risk in the process. Israel has the right to defend itself and America should stand strongly behind its ally. Last year on my trip to Israel, I visited the town of Sedro which has been hit by thousands of rocket attacks in the last decade. The families I met there refused to leave their homes, showing the true bravery of the Israeli people. Israel has made countless concessions in an effort to achieve peace in the Middle East. Unfortunately, Hamas is more committed to the destruction of Israel than a truly sustainable peace. The Palestinian people deserve better from their leaders.”

U.S. Rep. Jesse L. Jackson Jr.:
"I have been closely following the troubling events and escalating violence in the Middle East. We in the United States must continue to stand shoulder-to-shoulder in support of our friend and ally Israel as it defends itself against Hamas' unrelenting rocket attacks from Gaza.
"I'm encouraged by the recent cease-fire negotiations underway in the region. The talks must seek to end the intolerable rain of rockets on southern Israel and stop the violence and killing of Israelis and Palestinians. Until a cease-fire agreement is reached, I hope that every effort and scrupulous care continues to be taken to avoid the death of innocent civilians.
"I've long believed that the only route to a sustainable peace in the Middle east is through diplomatic means, not military might. The United States must once again take a leadership role and actively engage in the multilateral effort to build a permanent path to peace between the Israeli and Palestinian people."

U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk
“Hamas is a designated terrorist organization responsible for the murders of at least 26 American citizens -- some of them teenagers, children and infants. There can be no moral equivalency between a terrorist organization that targets civilians and a democratically elected government that acts to defend them.”

U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski:
“Israel is one of America’s strongest, most important allies. Our two nations share fundamental moral and political values based on freedom and democracy. Last year, Israel continued its important work toward achieving sustainable peace in the Middle East by accepting a proposal for a six-month cease-fire with Hamas. At the same time, this agreement provided Hamas with an opportunity to embrace a peaceful means to resolving its differences with Israel. Unfortunately, Hamas utilized the six month cease-fire to significantly boost its arsenal, which culminated in renewed rocket assaults on southern Israel. In fact, more than 600 rockets and mortars have been fired from Gaza at innocent civilians in Israel over the past six weeks and almost 500,000 Israelis live with the constant risk of attack. Like every other sovereign nation, Israel not only has the right but the duty to defend its citizens from attack. It is clear that Hamas' actions left Israel with no choice but to take action. While I strongly believe all parties involved must work towards sustainable peace, the continued attacks on Israel by Hamas significantly undermine this effort, threaten the overall security in the region, and greatly exacerbate the humanitarian situation for those living in Gaza. My thoughts and prayers are with all the innocent victims of this crisis.”

U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam:
“The United States must stand with the people of Israel as they defend the sovereignty of their nation. Families on both sides of the conflict deserve to raise their children in a safe and secure environment, affording them the very best opportunities in life. I fully support Israel as they preserve their homeland and am hopeful for a peaceful resolution to this ongoing conflict.”

U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky:
"Given the constant rocket fire from Hamas, particularly since Hamas declared an official end to the six-month ceasefire, Israel’s response is completely understandable. For years, the children of Sderot and surrounding communities and their parents have been terrorized by these attacks and forced to live in fear, regularly huddled in bomb shelters. Now those rockets plus more sophisticated ones are coming more frequently and endangering even more Israeli communities and families.
"Israel has an absolute right to defend herself.  That is not in question.  However, I am concerned that the renewed violence will make long-term peace and security for Israel even more elusive and create greater instability in the region.
"This untenable situation is crying out for a diplomatic solution, one in which the United States plays a leadership role, calling on the international community, including nations in the region, to participate.  That solution requires that the Palestinians recognize Israel’s right to exist and abandon terrorism, and that both sides agree to a two-state solution that achieves both physical and economic security.  I urge the Obama Administration from its first days to re-engage in active diplomacy, not only to end the current hostilities and alleviate humanitarian suffering, but to work toward a lasting peace, one that guarantees Israel’s survival as a Jewish democratic state."

U.S. Rep. John Shimkus
"Israel has been faced with a barrage of rocket and mortar attacks from within Gaza for months, but those attacks escalated in December. Israel has every right to defend itself against these attacks. Even after Israel used air strikes against specific targets within Gaza, the rocket and mortar attacks on Israel continue. A ground force seems within the rights of Israel to stop these attacks on Israel coming from within Gaza."

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