Hamas attacks met with condemnation among Ohio’s congressional delegation

By: - October 10, 2023 4:55 am

The U.S. Capitol. (Photo from Getty Images.)

Ohio’s U.S. Congressional delegation is loudly denouncing Hamas’ surprise attack on Israel.

Over the weekend, members of the militant group that controls Gaza launched thousands of indiscriminate missiles at Israel and broke through Israel’s heavily policed border with Gaza, killing more than 900 Israelis, including many civilians, and hundreds at a music festival in southern Israel, and taking many others hostage.

In response, Israel launched airstrikes against the densely populated strip of territory along the Mediterranean Sea. As of Monday morning, Gaza health officials reported 560 Palestinians had been killed.

Both sides report thousands more have been injured in the fighting.

Israel has faced criticism for its policing of the Gaza strip, which Israel and Egypt have had under blockade since 2007 when Hamas took control there from the Palestinian Authority group Fatah. Human Rights Watch has described Gaza as “an open-air prison.” On Monday, in response to the terrorist strikes from Hamas, Israeli Defense minister Yoav Gallant promised a “complete siege” of Gaza, cutting off electricity, food and fuel.

Ohio’s U.S. House delegation

While Ohio’s congressional delegation condemned the attacks on Israel across the board, they offered differing kinds of responses.

Rep. Jim Jordan, R-OH, who’s currently running for House Speaker, said the U.S. needs to help arm Israel.

“We need to immediately help replenish Israel’s stockpile of Iron Dome missiles to protect more innocent civilians from getting killed,” he said on X. “Let’s make sure Congress can unite and assure Israel has what it needs to destroy Hamas.”

He was the only member of Ohio’s congressional delegation to explicitly suggest additional aid for Israel. U.S. Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth said they’re already reviewing requests from Israel, but they’ll need additional funding — far from a certainty as the U.S. House tries to select a new speaker.

Ohio’s delegation has two Jewish members — freshman Reps. Max Miller, R-OH, and Greg Landsman, D-OH. Miller’s statements were particularly harsh. He described Hamas militants as terrorists and added, “Terrorists are snakes. We do not coddle snakes. We kill them for the safety of everyone.”

Separately, Miller argued Hamas must be toppled, “by whatever means.”

Landsman expressed anger at the attacks but stopped short of Miller’s calls for retribution.

“Hamas has invaded Israel, murdering Israelis in their homes. Over 2,000 rockets have been fired into Israel, with reports of Israelis being taken hostage,” he said. “This is terrifying and infuriating. America stands with Israel and the Israeli people. May this horrific assault on Israel end quickly.”

Several Republican members brought up Hamas’ connection with Iran and the Biden administration’s decision to ‘unfreeze’ $6 billion of Iranian oil funds for humanitarian purposes. But according to the U.S. State Department, Iran hasn’t touched that money.

Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-OH, drew the link not just from Hamas to Iran but from the current fighting to the conflict in Ukraine. Iran has supplied drones to support the Russian invasion.

“I continue to be horrified and dismayed by the brutality of Hamas terrorists attacking innocent Israeli civilians of all ages,” Kaptur said. “The fingerprints of Iranian strategy and technology are as present here as they are in attacks against Ukraine.”

Ohio’s U.S. Senate delegation

Even before winning his election, Sen. J.D. Vance, R-OH, has been one of the loudest Ukraine skeptics in the country. After initially saying he “didn’t care” what happened in Ukraine, Vance has been careful to express sympathy for Ukrainians while voicing opposition to additional support.

While there are differences between the Russian state invading its neighbor and a militant group launching a string of terrorist attacks against a longstanding ally, Vance’s reaction to the latter has been far more forceful.

“The horrible terrorist attacks launched by Hamas are an act of war,” he said. “We must unequivocally condemn these heinous acts of violence against innocent civilians and the Iranian regime for funding the terrorists who carried them out.”

In an interview on State of the Union, U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said there’s no evidence yet of Iran directing the attack, but he acknowledged Hamas has a long relationship with the country. A 2020 State Department report indicated Iran’s spends more than $100 million annually to support organizations like Hamas in the occupied territories.

Meanwhile, Hamas has also met with top Russian officials as recently as March, and one of Russia’s most prominent officials after Vladimir Putin, Dmitry Medvedev, said Saturday that the attacks were “expected,” that the U.S. should stop caring about Ukraine and focus on Israel, and that America should have a civil war.

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-OH, called Hamas’ actions “horrific, unprovoked attacks.”

“These acts of terrorism are an affront to human rights and our shared values of peace and democracy,” he said. “I want to be clear: Israel is our oldest, strongest ally in the region and has the right to exist and the right to self-defense. I will keep working with both parties to ensure continued support for Israel.”

Ohio’s U.S. Senate candidates

Brown is up for reelection next year in a race that Republicans see as a potential path to retaking the Senate majority. The field of potential GOP challengers were quick to condemn the attacks as well.

State Sen. Matt Dolan, R-Chagrin Falls, emphasized the connection between Hamas and Iran. He argued, “The Biden administration should acknowledge Iran’s involvement in Hamas’s terrorism and move quickly to provide Israel with the military assistance and capabilities they are requesting.”

“Hamas terrorists don’t distinguish between Israelis and Americans,” he added.

Secretary of State Frank LaRose zeroed in on Hamas’ attack of a music festival near Re’im, calling it “sickening.”

“My heart breaks for the innocent lives that have been taken by these barbaric terrorists. Hamas and their facilitators in Iran are pure evil,” he said. “Israel didn’t start this fight, but they certainly will end it — they have the right and the responsibility to do so.”

Bernie Moreno said he and his family “have been horrified by the barbaric terrorist attacks perpetrated by the radical Islamic jihadists, Hamas.”

But he quickly turned his attention to immigration policy.

“Given the horrifying images we have seen in Israel,” he said, “America must take action immediately to protect our own nation. Iran’s leaders and the terrorists chant ‘death to Israel,’ and ‘death to America.’ We must prepare to secure Americans and be proactive, not reactive.”

Moreno is calling for the outright cancellation of asylum applications through 2025, building more border wall, sending our military to the border, and insisting Mexico does the same, as well as denying funding to so-called ‘sanctuary’ cities.

Ohio Capital Journal followed up to ask if Moreno genuinely believes an attack at the U.S. Southern border is a possibility. A campaign spokesman said “the attacks in Israel should serve as a wake-up call to the politicians in Washington that we must finally start taking our own security more seriously to protect from potential attacks.”

Follow OCJ Reporter Nick Evans on Twitter.



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Nick Evans
Nick Evans

Nick Evans has spent the past seven years reporting for NPR member stations in Florida and Ohio. He got his start in Tallahassee, covering issues like redistricting, same sex marriage and medical marijuana. Since arriving in Columbus in 2018, he has covered everything from city council to football. His work on Ohio politics and local policing have been featured numerous times on NPR.