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Lankford Condemns Iran for Firing at Israel; Calls for US to Put Pressure on Iranian Regime

CLICK HERE to watch Lankford’s Q&A on YouTube.

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today spoke on the Senate floor in support of Israel days after Iran recklessly launched over 300 drones and missiles at Israel. Lankford reiterated that America must be clear in its support for Israel. Lankford also remembered the 1,200 people who were slaughtered and the 253 who were taken hostage on October 7, 2023, at the Nova Festival site, which Lankford recently visited.

Following Iran’s unprecedented attack, Lankford sent a letter to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to call on him to revoke the visa of Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian ahead of his planed travel to the United National Security Council meeting on April 18, 2024, in New York City, New York. In the letter Lankford states that Amir-Abdollahian is a senior card-carrying member of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGG) and has direct ties to the heinous October 7, 2023, terrorist attack on Israel and the ongoing attacks that Iran continues to orchestrate through Hamas, Hezbollah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and the Houthis. 

Lankford is the co-founder and the co-chair of the Senate Abraham Accords Caucus which was established in order to build on the success of the historic Abraham Accords under the Trump Administration. For decades, Congress has played a key role in promoting peace between Israel and its neighbors, which the region showed it has moved toward peace after Iran’s attack over the weekend. The Caucus works to provide an opportunity to strengthen the Abraham Accords by encouraging continued partnerships among the existing Abraham Accords countries and expanding the agreement to include countries that do not currently have diplomatic relations with Israel. Lankford along with Senator Jacky Rosen (R-NV) led an historic, bipartisan delegation visit to the Abraham Accord countries, including Israel, in January 2023. 


It’s been just six months and a week since October 7. The whole world was shaken as a flood, as they actually called it, an Al-Aqsa Flood, of Hamas terrorists came through the wall separating Gaza and Israel in multiple places, and over the next several hours they murdered 1200 Israelis. They took 253 hostages, including 133 that are still hostage still today. Six months and a week. Last week, now I guess nine days ago, I was in Israel. I spent time with Israelis, to meet with multiple leaders and get a chance to talk to different folks in different parts of the country, to see what’s going on, on the ground. 

This is a painful moment for the entire world, but definitely a painful moment for Israel and for the entire region. We think back just seven months ago, and all the conversation was normalization between Saudi Arabia and Israel. Then a group of Hamas terrorists stepped in and killed as many people as they possibly could, in an effort to also kill that normalization that’s happening around the entire region. To do whatever they could to drive a wedge, and so that peace could not continue to advance in the region. What’s happened since then has been painful for the entire world to watch, but it’s been really painful for the people of that region more than anyone else. 

I traveled to the far southern tip of Israel, along the border with Egypt, to be able to meet with folks in that area. To be able to talk about the relationship between Israel, Egypt, and what’s happening day to day. I traveled to the Kibbutz literally on the border with Gaza that are now vacant, empty, and devastated. I can’t begin to explain to this body, unless you’ve seen it before, the pain of walking through a large Kibbutz where there were hundreds of people that lived just a few months ago, now to see every building shot up, with bullet holes, burned, destroyed, and think at 6:38 that morning, during a Jewish holiday on that Saturday morning, October 7, many people were still asleep, when a group of Hamas terrorists came into their homes and murdered many in that village, and took many hostages from that Kibbutz. We could literally walk by the doors, and the person walking with us could say that family died, that family is a hostage, that family died, and go door to door as we walk around to be able to see it. 

The person who was walking us through couldn’t even walk us through his own home, which is obliterated, and his son’s home right there, who died, and then he could point to Gaza and say my other son is over there in Gaza right now. At the same time, flowers were blooming and the grounds were beautiful, and you realize the irony of this moment. Hostages being held in Gaza, families that are struggling every single day trying to make sense of this craziness, and trying to figure out why a peaceful Kibbutz, living their lives, farming, manufacturing, was overrun by a group of terrorists. Right up the road, we stopped by the Nova Festival site, which is an absolutely beautiful location for an outdoor concert, gatherings, has been for years. Trees, the setting, just beautiful. The day we were there, there were echoing noises of artillery fired off literally within hundreds of yards of us, as we were meeting with folks that survived the Nova Festival. A person in particular we got to chat with, and to be able to pick her brain about what happens next was one ne one of the bomb shelters because there was a launch of missiles, but then those bomb shelters became places where they were sitting ducks for the terrorists with gunfire. 

We traveled to the north, had the opportunity to visit with some of the mayors right along the border with Syria and Lebanon, where towns are evacuated, where people can’t survive the onslaught of artillery. We lost track ever the fact about a quarter-of-a-million Israelis are internally displaced, that live along the border with Gaza or along the border with Lebanon or Syria. Those folks also had to flee. Because while the world in the last several days has talked about 330 drone strikes, missile strikes, ballistics and cruise missiles that have come at Israel from Iran directly, the world lost track of the fact—not about the 330 bombs and missiles in the last week, but the 12,000 rockets that have been fired at Israel since October 7—12,000. Nine thousand one hundred of those rockets have come in from Gaza, launching at civilians in Israel, 3,100 of those rockets have been launched from Lebanon, from Hezbollah into the north of Israel, and 35 rockets have been fired from Syria at Israel. 

And I asked people how many rockets would be fired at your house before you would respond in a way to be able to make it stop? 

Israel has had 12,000 fired at them since October 7. The United States has never, ever put up with that, without responding in a forceful way to say we’re going to make it stop. There’s been a lot of conversation about rafah. I had a lot of conversations with Israeli leadership to be able to talk to them about the plan, what they’re going to do. You see, there’s Hamas bringing aides — brigades. We think about terrorism as random, but Hamas has a structure with brigades, fighting brigades. Most of those have been broken up. The remaining brigades of Hamas terrorists are all living underground at rafah. While we need to do everything we can, I had great conversations with Israelis about everything they’re doing to protect civilians and civilian lives, they had nothing to do with this onslaught of terrorism, they’re also keenly aware the people living underground in rafah are making public statements on social media that as soon as this war is over, they’re coming again to do another October 7. The Israelis are being very, very clear, we’re not going to allow that to happen. We’re not going to allow our Israeli citizens to be slaughtered in their beds early on a Saturday morning again. 

So they’re doing everything they can to prepare for that moment, to be able to stop the group of terrorists living underground. It’s interesting to me when I think about the Hamas terrorist organization, in the United States our military trains and prepares itself to get between violence and civilians. Hamas does the opposite. Hamas actually trains and equips to put civilians between its military and violence. They put the civilians on the top layer, while the safe shelters underground are occupied by the terrorist armies. Stunning to me just the mental difference between the two and how jarring that that really is. Interesting conversations I had with some of the Israeli leadership, to say you can’t eliminate Hamas by trying to attack them over and over again, to be able to eliminate all people that think like Hamas and are part of Hamas. Their response was interesting to me. The response was we fully understand we’re not going to obliterate everyone in Hamas. We want to stop the threat, but we understand that will be members of Hamas in the future that will still think that way, and their response to me was there are still Nazis in the world right now. There are still people that claim to be a Nazi or neo-Nazi right now. But the difference is, they don’t run Germany. Their first goal was we want to end Hamas’ rule, a terrorist organization, having the capacity to run the entity right next door to us. We understand there’ll still be people that think like that, but we want to show them there is a better way. We still want to be able to have peace with our neighbors. 

You see, this connection between Hezbollah and Syria and Hamas is Iran’s plan and has been for a long time, to build what they’re calling a “ring of fire” around Israel. It was their way of protecting themselves, for the Iranian regime, that if they made it so violent around Israel, Israel would never actually attack Iran. That was their plan. What’s interesting was Israel has been working to be able to build a “ring of ice” around Iran. That’s the Abraham Accords. As Iran is trying to make the region more violent, Israel is trying to make the region more peaceful. It’s stark when it’s side by side, isn’t it? Israel is working to build relationships, and has with UAE, with Bahrain, had a long-standing relationship with Jordan and Egypt. They’re working in their relationship with Saudi Arabia as they’ve added Morocco into the Abraham Accords. They’re building a “ring of ice” through the region to bring the temperature down in a violent, hostile area. 

And for the folks in Hamas, they hate the thought of that. Because they don’t want normalization. They want violence and control. And as they scream “from the river to the sea”, they mean the death of every Israeli. And quite frankly, every jew worldwide. And they’ve been clear about that. 

What do we need to do as Americans? 

I think we need to be attentive on several areas. One is Russia has formed an alliance with Iran. Many of the weapons systems being shot at Ukrainians are Iranian weapons systems, and we should not ignore that. This alliance between Russia and Iran continues grows. In the past several years, Russia dramatically increased its number of military bases in Syria. They’re at 103 bases now in Syria that are Russian-active bases. We should pay attention to that. 

For Iran, we’ve seen clearly what they’re doing, how they continue to attack. There’s this focus on 330 drones, cruise missiles, and ballistic missiles that were fired at Israel just this past week. What people may not be tracking is what continues to happen from Lebanon with the Iranian-backed Hezbollah continuing to attack Israel. Just in the past 24 hours, Hezbollah has attacked northern Israeli communities and cities six times in the last 24 hours. But of course no media is covering that. But if you’re in one of the communities that’s now vacant in northern Israel and that they fled and they’re living in hotels or with relatives or fled to some other location from northern Israel. They’re keenly aware of what continues to happen there. 

We’ve got to deal with the continued threat and awakening from Russia, but we’ve got to also think seriously about what’s happening with the regime in Iran. We as a nation have tried to pacify Iran. We tried to isolate them diplomatically. I don’t call for a military attack on Iran. No one wants a violence and war. We’re not interested in our sons and daughters being involved in another conflict. But to think that Iran is going to suddenly be peaceful when a regime as intent on trying to destroy Israel at the time should awaken all of us to the reality of where Iran really is. 

It was also good to be able to see when 330 projectiles were coming at Israel this week, the Americans stood by their side. They shot down a lot of those. The Israelis obviously shot down the majority of them, but the British also were engaged in shooting those down. We had French that were engaged. But also the Jordanians were engaged, the Saudis were engaged. The region is pushing back on a violent Iran that is intent on making the region worse and more unstable, not better. Iran has used the vacuum of what’s happened in Syria to move in their radicalism across Syria, and they continue to make it a more and more toxic place in Syria and in Iraq. 

We as the United States should turn up our sanctions even more. We as the United States should isolate Iran even more. We as the United States should use every leverage that we have to isolate not only their economy, but to be able to be focused in on that regime, because quite frankly, that regime is oppressing its own people. Our problem as a nation is not the Iranian people. They’re living under the oppression of the Iranian regime as well. It is the regime that’s there. And while some members of this body have called for a change in leadership in Israel, I would call for a change in leadership in Iran, because that’s really the problem in the region. And we should find ways to be able to apply as much pressure as we can on that regime and to be able to message to the people of Iran as often as we possibly can, we see you in the oppression that you live under every single day. And we wish better for you. For well-educated young men and women who live under the oppressive thumb of that leadership. 

Something else we can do as the United States is stop allowing our soil to be the place where the Iranian regime can spew their hatred. This Thursday the Iranian foreign minister is flying to the United States to be able to speak to a group of people at the UN, and our Administration has given him a visa. I have called on Secretary Blinken to say literally this is one of the Iranian leaders who is a leading voice in the IRGC, who is a leading voice in the attack in the preparation for October 7, who is a leading voice of hatred towards the United States and the west and our ally Israel. 

We should not extend a visa while Iran is attacking actively from their soil and from all of their proxies. We should not extend a visa to the Iranian foreign minister to come stand on our soil in our country and spew his hatred. If he wants to do that internationally, he can. Now, I understand the US is a body and the place where we’ve allowed voices from all over the world to come speak. But you know what? There was a moment when President Obama denied a visa to Iranian leaders because of where they were. There was a moment when President Trump also denied some visas to some of the Iranian leaders because of what they were actively doing. 

This is a moment when President Biden and Secretary Blinken should tell the Iranian foreign minister not this week, not right now, not at all. When you’re attacking our friends, we should not loan them bits of our soil to do it from our territory. We should make it clear that the Iranian leadership that oppresses its own people and attacks our allies, and, by the way, uses their proxies to murder Americans that are also serving in their region, we should make it very clear we will not allow that on our soil. I made it clear when I was in Israel, that the people of the United States see the people of Israel. 

We understand what they’re living under. And as a nation who’s faced terrorism in our nation, we understand the emotion that they have at this point. And we understand their tenacity. We as the United States should be very clear, we have an ally, and it’s Israel. We’re going to walk with her. We’re going to help Israel in every way that we can because she has been attacked and is in the middle of a war. And when you walk through the streets of Tel Aviv or Jerusalem, you feel it, just like when you’re walking through the streets along the border with Gaza and Lebanon and Syria, you feel it. They are ready for peace. And Israel is actively building a “ring of ice” in the region to bring down the temperature of the region, to push back directly on Iran’s “ring of fire.” 

We as a nation should be clear on which one we support. Those that are bringing peace or those that are bringing violence and hatred. We should make that continually clear, and continue to be able to act on it diplomatically, and when we need to protect our allies in every way we can like we did this week with Israel. 

Let’s pray for the peace of Jerusalem, but let’s also stand by her.