WASHINGTON, D.C. - Congressman Michael Waltz issued a sharp rebuke of the Palestinian militant group Hamas on Friday, comparing them to notable middle eastern terrorists such as ISIS and the Taliban. Waltz represents all of Flagler County and parts of Volusia, Putnam, and St. Johns.
Waltz joins a growing list of federal officials condemning Hamas in the wake of a brutal assault against the nation of Israel earlier this week, killing over 1,000 people. The organization is designated a terrorist group by the federal government, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken remarking they exist only "to destroy Israel and murder Jews".
Waltz's comments were largely in line with that assessment. "[They] are going to use human shields," the congressman said in a Fox News interview on Friday. "They are going to use hostages and literally chain them to military targets [...] Hamas is no different than ISIS or the Taliban."
Prior to being elected to Congress, Waltz served as a Green Beret in the U.S. Army with combat experience in Afghanistan. He is the first Green Beret ever elected to Congress, and serves on the congressional committees on Armed Services, Foreign Affairs, and Intelligence.
The act of condemning Hamas has been largely uniform across the American political spectrum, with few notable officials taking a different stance. Israel launched a powerful retaliatory attack on the Gaza strip on October 8th, killing dozens. Electricity and water to the region were cut off, with the Israeli government vowing to keep its stranglehold until Hamas' hostages were released.
Civilians have been killed in both Hamas' initial strike and Israel's response, including children in both cases. Secretary Blinken met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Friday in Jordan, affirming the United States' opposition to Hamas and thanking Abbas for his efforts to preserve peace, according to a statement by the State Department.
Between 500 and 600 American citizens were in Gaza as Israel's counter strike began per the federal government. President Joe Biden has begun arranging for their evacuation via charter flights on Friday, according to a report from the New York Times. The Israel Defense Forces are urging civilians to evacuate to the southern Gaza strip in order to avoid being caught in the ongoing conflict.