On the morning of the Jewish holiday of Simchat Torah on October 7, 2023, Hamas terrorists launched inhumane and barbaric attacks on Israeli civilians by air, land, and sea. The world watched in horror as these terrorists slaughtered and burned innocent Israeli families in their homes, abducted and killed Americans, murdered over 200 young people enjoying a music festival, kidnapped innocent people including Holocaust survivors, women, and children, and wounded thousands.
President Biden has since confirmed that there are multiple American citizens among the hostages captured.
During the initial attacks, I was in the Middle East with Senator Ernst on a bipartisan and bicameral Congressional Delegation to Saudi Arabia and Bahrain to build upon the successes of the Abraham Accords and foster peace and increased partnerships in the region.
A huge portion of the trip focused on deterring Iranian and extremist aggression from threatening Americans and our partners and allies. It was harrowing to be there during the heinous attacks on Israel, but we sent a reassuring message of support for our strongest ally in the Middle East. It was also encouraging to meet with our committed military, especially Iowans, stationed in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.
As we continue to monitor the developments in Israel, it is increasingly apparent that we must remain committed to the ongoing normalization efforts between Israel and their neighboring countries and continue to find ways for our countries to work together and bolster our strategic alliance.
This means taking a hard look at who is funding, providing weapons, and training Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist organizations to lead to these brutal attacks. Iran is the world’s foremost state sponsor of terrorism and the principal financier of Hamas. According to the State Department, Iran provides Palestinian terror groups $100 million annually.
Additionally, Iran has generated approximately $80 billion in revenue from oil sales, primarily to China, since President Biden took office.
Yet, on September 11, 2023, the Biden Administration announced a ransom payment to Iran in a deal to free five American hostages wrongfully detained in Iran. This backdoor deal called for the release of $6 billion in Iranian assets held in South Korea. We cannot trace these assets and more importantly we cannot truly dictate where the assets are going. Once the funds are dispersed to Iran, they have free range to do whatever they want with it.
That is why I introduced a resolution to demand that the Biden Administration refreeze the $6 billion to ensure that the funds never reach Iran and never make it into the hands of Hamas terrorists.
My resolution also calls for the Biden Administration to utilize all coercive and diplomatic resources available to secure the release and return of Americans held hostage by Hamas. Finally, it directs the Biden Administration to return to a policy of maximum sanctions pressure against Iran to target proliferation activities and crackdown on the human rights abuses in Iran.
The United States must ensure that Israelis have the tools they need to defend their citizens and I will continue to urge Members of Congress to support this resolution and to stand shoulder to shoulder with Israel during their time of need.