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Rep. Andy Barr: I stand proudly with Israel in its war against Hamas. | Opinion

I proudly stand with Israel – as an American, as a father, and as a member of Congress.

On Oct. 7, Hamas terrorists launched an unprecedented and unprovoked surprise attack by land, air, and sea against our closest ally in the Middle East, the sovereign and democratic nation of Israel. The savagery and cruelty with which the jihadists carried out the attack cannot be overstated.

Within hours, Hamas had crossed the border from Gaza into Israeli kibbutzes, homes, businesses, concert venues, and even schools to slaughter over 1,200 innocent civilians, kidnap more than 230 people, rape women, execute parents in front of their children, pull families from their vehicles and burn them alive, and behead victims including babies. This was ISIS on steroids; war crimes against the Jewish people not seen since the Holocaust.

Hamas’ murderous rampage was an affront to our values and to our shared humanity. This is a war of good versus evil, right versus wrong, and I stand with Israel.

Those who question Israel’s response to enter Gaza, destroy the terrorist organization Hamas and bring back their kidnapped citizens should ask, what would we do if 3,500 terrorists poured into our country and massacred our fellow Americans?

All wars are horrific and lead to terrible tragedies and death. In this case, both innocent Israelis and Palestinians are suffering and dying. But make no mistake, this war is entirely Hamas’ fault.

Hamas spent the past 16 years deliberately embedding itself among the Palestinian people – outrageously using them as human shields. It used the al-Shifa Hospital as its command and control center. It stores weaponry in mosques, schools, and private homes. It has built a massive terrorist tunnel network snaking through civilian neighborhoods. All of these actions are war crimes. Israel, in contrast, has continued to provide innocent Palestinians with humanitarian assistance and uphold the laws of armed conflict even as it fights an enemy who deliberately breaks them.

Moral clarity is required in this moment. This war started when Hamas broke a ceasefire and attacked Israel. It was Hamas, and its patron Iran, who brought this war on Israel and on the people of Gaza.

As the Representative of Kentucky’s Sixth Congressional District, I will continue to not only fight for what is right, but fight for the will of my constituents as a whole. In a recent poll of our district, 74% of those surveyed said that they did not support a ceasefire in this conflict until Hamas is destroyed and all of the hostages in Gaza are freed. I took this poll to heart, and it reaffirmed what I already knew to be true: Israel has an unqualified right to defend itself against terrorists – and on this I will not waiver, no matter how militant the minority opposition may be.

Those who wish to end this conflict peacefully should be leading the call for Hamas to disarm, surrender, and release all the hostages. Until that unlikely scenario happens, I will stand by our ally and the people of Israel, as they fight against the genocidal forces of evil on their borders – just as we would.

Andy Barr has represented Kentucky’s 6th Congressional District in the United States House of Representatives since 2013 and serves on the Foreign Affairs Committee, Financial Services Committee, and the Select Committee on the Strategic Competition Between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party.