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Florida Delegation Condemns Murder of Israeli Teens, Calls Out Hamas

June 30, 2014 - 6:00pm
Members of the Florida congressional delegation from both parties condemned the murders of three kidnapped Israeli teenagers Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaar and Naftali Frenkel and called for the federal government to cut funding to Hamas-linked groups.

The three teenagers were kidnapped on June 12. Their bodies were found by the Israeli military earlier this week.

From his perch on the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee, U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., called the murders an outrage and demanded the end of federal funding to the Hamas-backed Palestinian Authority.

"The murder of three Israeli teenagers by Hamas terrorists is an outrage, DeSantis said on Monday. While it should have been obvious from the start that any 'unity' government that includes Hamas would not be interested in peace with Israel, the Obama administration has continued to send money to the Palestinian Authority even though current law prohibits funds from going to a Hamas-influenced government. Congress must immediately move to cut off funds to the Fatah-Hamas unity government. American taxpayers cannot subsidize a government that is adverse to our interests and whose behavior is contrary to our values."

Two members of the Florida delegation who sit on the U.S. House Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee -- U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., and ranking Democrat U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla.-- were in the Middle East and were scheduled to meet with the families of the murdered teens on Tuesday. The congressman and congresswoman released a joint statement offering condolences and calling for an investigation to see if Hamas was behind the murders:

No words can adequately express the sorrow and sadness we feel for the families of Gilad, Naftali and Eyal, the people of Israel and the entire Jewish community worldwide," they said. "This is a day of tragedy and mourning; the world has lost three beloved sons, friends, and beautiful souls who were taken from us too early, but will forever live on in our hearts and minds. We will continue to support the government of Israel in its efforts to bring the perpetrators to justice, and we offer the people of Israel our deepest and most heartfelt condolences as we grieve with them. If it is determined that Hamas is behind this horrific tragedy, Abu Mazen must immediately break up the unity agreement between Fatah and Hamas, a U.S. designated foreign terrorist organization.

U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., denounced the murders as well, saying she was heartbroken about them.

They were innocent, unarmed teenagers murdered in cold blood, Wassserman Schultz said.These boys had their whole lives ahead of them, and deserved so much better. As a mother, a Jew, and a public servant, my heart goes out to their families, friends, and the Israeli people.

Wasserman Schultz, the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), did not turn to greater political matters but did urge action against whoever was behind the murders.

The terrorist cowards who perpetrated such heinous crimes must be brought to justice swiftly," Wasserman Schultz said.

U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia, D-Fla., said that Hamas could be behind the attacks and, if so, there would be greater consequences.

As the search for those responsible continues, it is my hope that the perpetrators are quickly found and brought to justice, Garcia said. The possibility that Hamas may have been involved continues to shed light on the serious concerns over their role in the new Palestinian government and how it impacts the prospects of lasting peace and security in the region.

Reach Kevin Derby at kderby@sunshinestatenews.com.

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