South Florida’s congressional delegation reacted with anger and condemnation at Hamas militants and expressed their unequivocal support for Israel on Saturday following the unprecedented surprise early morning attack by Hamas militants who fired thousands of rockets and sent dozens of fighters into Israeli towns near the Gaza Strip.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a televised address said his country is now at war with Hamas and launched airstrikes in Gaza, vowing to inflict an “unprecedented price.”
The shadowy leader of Hamas’ military wing, Mohammed Deif, said the assault was in response to the 16-year blockade of Gaza, Israeli raids inside West Bank cities over the past year, violence at Al Aqsa — the disputed Jerusalem holy site sacred to Jews as the Temple Mount — increasing attacks by settlers on Palestinians and growth of settlements.
In a statement released by the White House, President Biden said: “Terrorism is never justified. Israel has a right to defend itself and its people. The United States warns against any other party hostile to Israel seeking advantage in this situation. My Administration’s support for Israel’s security is rock solid and unwavering.”
Here’s reaction from several South Florida’s Senate and House leaders:
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida
Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, Florida’s senior senator, said “Israel was attacked by a Hamas terror group funded & supplied by Iran,” in a post on “X,” formerly Twitter.
“And the continued appeasement of Iran is encouraging these attacks,” he said.
Last month, the Biden administration agreed to the release of nearly $6 billion in frozen Iranian assets owed by a third country, South Korea, as part of controversial deal that allowed five Americans detained for years in Iran to be set free. Iran has been a longtime backer of Hamas, providing money, weapons and training.
Sen. Rick Scott, R-Florida
In a statement Saturday, Republican Sen. Rick Scott, Florida’s junior senator and former governor, said “Israelis are dying today at the hands of Iran-backed terrorists.”
“President Joe Biden, and every American ally and partner, must swiftly condemn this invasion and acts of war by Hamas terrorists and the Iranian regime which supports their murderous attacks,” he said.
He, too, slammed Biden for releasing the $6 billion last month to Iran.
“This is exactly why so many Americans and Israelis were disgusted to see President Biden give the Iranian regime $6 billion last month,” he said. “Every dollar given to Iran funds terrorism in the Ayatollah’s quest to destroy Israel.”
He added: “Iran is behind today’s invasion and everyone must say that as we stand with our Israeli allies.”
U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D−Weston
Calling Hamas a “vicious terrorist organization,” U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Democrat from Weston, said Saturday that “Israel is at war, not by choice.”
“[It] has every right to defend itself and its people against this barbarous onslaught,” she said in a statement. “The United States stands in solidarity with Israel not only during this tragic day but every day.”
She said will work with congressional colleagues and the Biden administration that “to ensure Israel has the resources needed to repel these cowardly terrorists and protect its people.”
“Am Yisrael Chai!” she said, meaning “The Nation of Israel Lives.”
U.S. Rep. Jared Moskowitz, D−Parkland
“The United States Government must not just stand with Israel. It must supply and resupply Israel with the weapons it needs to crush Hamas,” U.S. Rep. Jared Moskowitz, D−Parkland, posted on “X.”
U.S. Rep. Sheila Cherfilus−McCormick, D−Miramar
“Our strongest ally in the Middle East is confronting a heartbreaking and senseless act of terror — one which has taken innocent lives across the country. It pains me deeply,” U.S. Rep. Sheila Cherfilus−McCormick, D−Miramar, wrote on “X.”
“I condemn this despicable violence in the strongest terms possible and stand with the people of Israel — today and every day,” she wrote.
U.S. Rep. Carlos Gimenez, R−Miami
“I stand with Prime Minister @netanyahu & the @IDF as they defend their country from an an unprovoked, murderous attack by Hamas terrorists,” wrote U.S. Rep. Carlos Gimenez, R−Miami, on “X.” “America stands with the democratic, Jewish State of #Israel & it’s right to defend itself.”
Gimenez, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, told Fox News early Saturday that he’s visited Israeli villages in the Gaza Strip. He expects the conflict to “take a while” but that Israeli military would “restore peace.”
U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, D−Miami Gardens
In a statement, Congresswoman Wilson, a member of the Congressional Israel Allies Caucus and Congressional Democratic Israel Working Group Caucus, condemned the “unprovoked and despicable assaults.”
“Democratic nations worldwide must unite to support Israel, as unity is our strength in the face of united terrorism,’ she said.
“Israel stands as the United States’ closest friend and ally, and our nation’s strength is intertwined with theirs. My prayers are with the people of Israel today, and as Israel prepares for war in these dark hours, the United States stands ready to support Israel’s right to defend itself. Our commitment to Israel is unwavering.”
U.S. Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar, R−Miami
U.S. Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar, R−Miami, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said she “will do everything possible to help Israel” in a post on “X.”
“From Miami, we stand with Israel,” she said.