Alabama state leaders from across the political spectrum have joined together in voicing support for Israel as the escalation of violence continued into its sixth day on Thursday following a surprise attack by Hamas.
“For the past 80 years, Alabama has supported the nation of Israel, and we reaffirm our commitment today following the unprovoked surprise attacks launched by Palestinian Hamas militants,” said Alabama House Speaker Nathaniel Ledbetter, R-Rainsville, in a statement.
“Alabamians continue to stand tall with our nation’s strongest and most loyal Middle Eastern ally, and our prayers of support go out to the Israeli military forces, the nation’s leaders, and all of those who lost family, friends and neighbors to the senseless Palestinian violence.”
House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels, D-Huntsville, stood in solidarity with his Republican House colleague, calling the attack a “horrific act of war and terrorism.”
On Saturday, Hamas launched at least 3,000 rockets into Israel, while 1,000 Hamas militants simultaneously infiltrated by way of trucks, motorcycles and paragliders into Israeli-occupied territory.
Hundreds of Israeli citizens were killed during the initial attack, leading to a forceful response from Israel that as of Wednesday, has left at least 1,100 Palestianians dead, including more than 320 children living in the Gaza Strip. Israeli casualties as of Wednesday reached 1,200 dead, including 22 Americans.
The greater Israeli-Palestinian conflict has seen regular flare-ups of violence since at least the late 1940s, though the weekend attack was unprecedented, with Secretary of State Anthony Bliken calling it the worst attack on Israel since the 1973 Yom Kippur War.
While favorability for Palestine among Americans has grown over the past decade, largely due to alleged human rights violations toward Palestinians, Hamas’ most recent attack has been universally condemned among American leadership, as well as from Alabama leadership across the political spectrum.
Every single U.S. House member from Alabama, including Democratic Rep. Terri Sewell, have openly condemned Hamas and voiced their support for Israel in the conflict. On Monday, Gov. Kay Ivey directed flags to be lowered to half-staff in honor of Israelis killed in the attack, and vowed that Alabama would continue to stand “in solidarity with the state of Israel.”
I joined my House colleagues in introducing this bipartisan resolution to demonstrate our strong and unwavering support for Israel as it defends itself against Hamas’ brutal attack. https://t.co/KrVhdx3GLB
— Rep. Terri A. Sewell (@RepTerriSewell) October 10, 2023
Rep. Philip Ensler, D-Montgomery, executive director of the Jewish Federation of Central Alabama and the only Jewish state lawmaker, had planned to arrive in Israel on Wednesday before news broke of the initial attack.
“It feels surreal to say this, I was supposed to leave for Israel this morning on a trip,” he told Alabama Daily News Wednesday. “Of course, it’s postponed, and it has been, on a personal level, immensely relieving to not be there. But I also of course have a tremendous amount of concern and worry for those who are there.”
While unequivocally condemning the attack on Israeli citizens, calling it “heinous” and “evil,” Ensler said that the “very complex, very nuanced situation” did not require the condemnation of ordinary Palestinian citizens.
“With that said, under the rule of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, I have a tremendous amount of sympathy for the innocent Palestinians living there who have no choice and are there with a government – if you can even call it that – whose purpose is to destroy Israel and destroy Jews,” he said.
“So we can also acknowledge that there are innocent Palestinians, and recognize that Israel has every right to respond in an appropriate way under international law.”
Today, 2.3 million Palestianians live in the Gaza Strip, a 25-mile stretch of land on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea that has often been described as an “open-air prison” due to land and sea blockades from Israel and Egypt. Excluding Hamas’ most recent attack, 6,407 Palestinians and 308 Israelis have been killed in the ongoing conflict since 2008.
Sen. Tommy Tuberville not only voiced his continued support for Israel and condemnation of Hamas, but suggested Iran – which has openly voiced support for Palestinian resistance – had been involved in the recent attacks.
“The Iran-backed terrorist attacks on Israel are completely unacceptable,” he said in a social media post. “Israel has every right to respond with force.”
Hamas has denied Iran played any role in the recent attack, and U.S. and Israeli officials have also yet to find any evidence of direct Iranian involvement. Iran has, however, provided training and weapons to Hamas militants over the years, according to those same officials.
Sen. Katie Britt joined Tuberville in his condemnation of Iran, while also calling on the Western G7 countries to immediately convene and collectively place “severe sanctions” on Iran.
“We have seen time and time again that strength deters war, while weakness and appeasement invite it,” Britt said on Wednesday.
“While we continue to voice our resounding, unwavering support for Israel, we must also match our words with action in the form of bone-crushing, coordinated sanctions that cut off the ability for Iran to finance the types of atrocities we have seen perpetrated in recent days.”