Johnson describes ‘harrowing’ video of Hamas atrocities, calls for Senate to pass Israel aid

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House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) on Tuesday described as “harrowing” a video compilation that was shown to lawmakers of Hamas’s attacks against Israel on Oct. 7, as he pushed for the Senate to pass House legislation that coupled aid to Israel with cuts to the IRS.

“We had a large group of Republican and Democrat House members in the auditorium this morning, and you could have heard a pin drop — except for the sighs and the cries in the room because the video would make anyone with a soul cry,” Johnson said.

“I agree with our friend, Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu who said this is a battle between good versus evil, between light versus darkness, between civilization and barbarism. And we want to make absolutely clear where America stands in that fight, and we’ll continue to do that.” 

The Israeli Embassy screened the video compilation for lawmakers as part of its effort to build support for what it describes as a defensive war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

The 45-minute video includes footage taken from GoPro cameras worn by Hamas, cellphone videos of the attackers, and footage from the cellphones of victims and first responders.

The video shows the deaths of nearly 138 people. Israel says more than 1,000 civilians were killed by Hamas, along with hundreds of soldiers. Hamas also took 240 people hostage, Israel said.

Israel’s bombardment of Gaza in response to the Hamas attack has killed more than 10,000 people, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry.

Johnson said watching the video reinforced for Congress the need to deliver on President Biden’s $14 billion aid request to support Israel’s military operations. 

The House earlier this month passed aid but coupled it with cuts to IRS funding included in last year’s Inflation Reduction Act. While the IRS cuts were included to pay for the cost of the aid to Israel, budget-scorers said the cuts would actually increase the deficit since the IRS funding was estimated to increase tax revenue.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has rejected taking up the GOP-led legislation, criticizing Republicans of playing politics with America’s vital national security interests for their request to cut funding from the IRS. 

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