Last week, U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, R-Fla., brought back his bill sanctioning Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and their supporters.
Back in March 2019, Mast paired up with the two leaders of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee–then chairman U.S. Rep. Eliot Engel, D-NY, and then top Republican U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Tex.–and U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-NJ, to introduce the “Palestinian International Terrorism Support Prevention Act” which “imposes sanctions on foreign persons, agencies and governments that assist Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad or their affiliates.”
Mast’s office offered some insights as to why the congressman had brought out the proposal.
“Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad are foreign terrorist organizations and specially designated by the United States government as global terrorists. Hamas is responsible for the death of more than 400 Israelis and at least 25 United States citizens. The Palestinian Islamic Jihad has claimed credit for multiple terrorist attacks in Israel, including an attack that killed a New Jersey student,” Mast’s office noted.
After clearing the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee in July 2019, Mast’s bill was before the full House which passed it on a voice vote. More than forty members have lined up as cosponsors including U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., U.S. Rep. Neal Dunn, R-Fla., and U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla. However, the measure did not clear the U.S. Senate.
Mast brought the bill back with Gottheimer and Gaetz continuing to back it as early cosponsors.
“Following my service in the Army, I chose to volunteer alongside the Israeli Defense Forces because our countries share the common ideals of freedom, democracy and mutual respect for all people. Hamas preaches destruction to Israel and death to the values we hold dear in the United States,” Mast said last week. “The United States must not tolerate anybody who provides support to these radical Islamic terrorists.”
“The terrorist group Hamas is well known for firing rockets and digging terror tunnels into Israel and using Gazans, including women and children, as human shields. It is critical that the United States and our allies continue to isolate terrorist groups like Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad by cutting them off at the source,” Gottheimer said. “This bill will strengthen sanctions to weaken these terrorist groups that threaten our ally Israel, undermine peace, and further destabilize the Middle East. This bipartisan legislation, which has already passed the House unanimously, also contains important humanitarian considerations. I hope Congress will swiftly pass the Palestinian International Terrorism Support Prevention Act so it can be signed into law.”
The bill was sent to the U.S. House Foreign Affairs and the Financial Services Committees. So far, there is no companion measure over in the Senate.
Kevin Derby can be reached at Kevin.Derby@floridadaily.com.