WASHINGTON, DC As civilian deaths mount on both sides and foreigners flee the region for safety, Israel continues to attack Lebanon for the stated purpose of seeking the release of two Israeli soldiers who were taken prisoner by Hezbollah militants. In response to the crisis, House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD), who represents the fifth congressional district which encompasses all of southern Maryland, released the following statement today:
It is clear to me that Israel is absolutely justified in undertaking the defense of its territory and its people. The actions taken by Israel have been the direct response to the criminal, terrorist attacks of Hamas and Hezbollah.
As a first step to restoring calm, it is absolutely imperative that Israels soldiers in Gaza and Lebanon be returned unconditionally and unharmed, and that indiscriminate rocket attacks on Israeli civilians by Hamas and Hezbollah cease immediately.
While I am convinced that Israel is using every possible effort to avoid civilian casualties, it is clear that the terrorists in Hamas and Hezbollah stage their actions from within civilian communities, thereby putting civilians at risk. Israel should continue to take every effort to avoid civilian casualties.
Hamas and Hezbollah bear direct responsibility for this current crisis. They have consistently committed themselves to Israels destruction and taken actions to that end. In June, Hamas militants emerged from a tunnel dug 300 yards inside Israel, and killed two Israeli soldiers, wounded three and kidnapped one. Then, last week, Hezbollah terrorists crossed Israels internationally recognized northern border, and killed eight Israeli soldiers and kidnapped two. These premeditated, unprovoked terrorist attacks on Israel are absolutely indefensible.
I believe that it is long past time for the international community to facilitate the implementation of Security Council Resolution 1559, adopted in September 2004, which calls for the Lebanese army to control southern Lebanons border and for Hezbollah to be disarmed. Allowing Hezbollah to exist and operate on Israels northern border is no more acceptable than allowing al-Qaida to exist and operate on Americas border.
If the international community fails to ensure the implementation of Security Council Resolution 1559, I believe Israel as a sovereign nation with an inherent right of self-defense has every right to strike armed terrorists which seek her destruction. Disarming and disbanding terrorist organizations is essential to Middle East peace.
BBC In Depth: Middle East Crisis
Full Coverage: Mideast Conflict on Yahoo! News