Delay in Passing Hamas Sanctions Bill Is 'Inexcusable,' Says Rep

Palestinian militants launch missiles into Israel in May 2021 / Reuters
May 12, 2021

The House's delay in passing a bill to increase sanctions on Hamas is "inexcusable" after the terrorist group's attacks on Israel this week, Rep. Brian Mast (R., Fla.) said Tuesday.

Mast urged Congress to reconsider an act he cosponsored that aims to kneecap Hamas's financial backers. The legislation, called the Palestinian International Terrorism Support Prevention Act, tasks the U.S. government with identifying and financially isolating any individual or company bankrolling Hamas. Mast's bill, an earlier version of which passed the House unanimously in 2019 but died in the Senate, would require the support of both Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) and House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Gregory Meeks (D., N.Y.).

"Over the past few decades, Hamas, [the Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine], and their affiliates have murdered hundreds of Israelis and dozens of Americans," Mast said. "These terrorist groups are motivated by hatred of Jews and western liberal values. … We should allow no delay in getting this bill to the Senate and onto the President so that he can apply the necessary pressure to stop these groups from terrorizing the Region."

Mast's request that Congress reconsider the bill comes as violence against Israel reaches its highest point since 2014. On Monday and Tuesday, Hamas, which is backed by Iran, fired more than 1,000 rockets at Israel, largely at civilian targets. Although the Israeli missile defense system has intercepted the majority of the terrorist rockets, the attacks have killed at least 5 and injured more than 200 within Israel.

Republicans blasted the Biden administration for its slow response to condemning the attacks, which included the first violent action on Jerusalem in more than six years. Some Democrats condemned Israel's actions as an "assault" on Palestinians, with Rep. Ilhan Omar (Minn.) accusing the country of "ethnic cleansing."

Meeks and Pelosi did not return requests for comment.