Lawmakers vow to stand by Israel in Gaza fight

Lawmakers from both parties on Monday pushed back against criticism of Israel and vowed to stand by the nation in its fight with Hamas.

"We're here today to stand with Israel," said Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) at an event hosted by the National Leadership Assembly for Israel. "As long as I'm Speaker of the House, this will be our cause." 

The event came as fighting entered a third week with Hamas group targeting Israel with thousands of rockets. Israeli forces are conducting an air and ground campaign to destroy weapons caches and underground tunnels in Gaza.

So far, more than 1,000 Palestinians and at least 43 Israeli soldiers and three civilians have been killed in the conflict, according to the New York Times

Lawmakers defended Israel from critics who cited the high number of Palestinian civilians killed in the fighting, laying the blame with Hamas instead. The United Nations says a majority of those killed have been civilians.

"There is no moral equivalency between Israel and Hamas," said Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.). 

"There is a moral disconnect between purveyors of terror, and defenders of people," added Rep. Steny Hoyer, the Democratic Whip, (D-Md.). 

Other lawmakers who spoke at the event included House Majority Leader-elect Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), House Foreign Affairs Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.), and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.). 

The lawmakers assured leaders of Jewish groups in attendance that they would continue to firmly back Israel's right to defend itself against the rocket attacks from Hamas. 

They also pledged to continue funding Iron Dome, an air missile defense system that intercepts rockets headed towards populated areas. 

House lawmakers said they would pass a resolution this week in support of Israel. 

"The U.S. would not have shown the restraint that Israel has shown," said Ros-Lehtinen. "Congress's support for Israel will not diminish."