Newly-elected Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-LA) led a bipartisan candlelight vigil on the steps of the Capitol on Tuesday evening to mark the one-month anniversary of the Hamas terrorist attack on Israel that left more than 1,400 dead, 5,300 wounded, and 240 people kidnapped.
Standing alongside House Democrat Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) and dozens of other lawmakers, Johnson spoke out about the horrific massacre.
“It was one month ago, on this date in the early hours of October 7 that Hamas terrorists waged the bloodiest assault on Israel and Jewish lives since the Holocaust,” the Republican congressman said.
Johnson went on to discuss a meeting with members of United Hatzalah, an organization providing rapid emergency response in Israel — noting that the group described to him horrific crimes that occurred during the October 7 massacre, including terrorists decapitating innocent civilians.
“These are not regular enemies,” Johnson explained. “Hamas terrorists are barbaric savages, and their only goal is the total extermination of Israel and all Jewish people. And this assault continues, even as we stand here today.”
He also expressed his support for Israel’s right to defend itself and his opposition to a ceasefire — which many Democrats, including President Joe Biden, have been calling for in recent weeks.
“We must do all we can do to support Israel in their dire moment of need,” Johnson said. “And while we pray for peace and humanity to prevail, that does not mean Israel must just accept these attacks. We reject calls for a ceasefire and boldly proclaim to the world that acts of terror will be met with swift, decisive action.”
In a rare display of bipartisanship, Jeffries joined in on condemnation of Hamas and a pledge to support Israel — stating that the group had gathered to “unequivocally condemn the acts of terror, honor the memory of those brutally murdered, and pray for the safe return of those held hostage.”
“America stands with Israel in its hour of great need,” the Democrat leader added.
A photo of the bipartisan candlelight vigil was shared on X, formerly known as Twitter, by Rep. French Hill (R-AR), who recently introduced a resolution alongside Rep. Haley Stevens (D-MI) calling for Hamas to immediately release all the hostages taken during the attack.
“Tonight we stand shoulder to shoulder, Democrats and Republicans, Americans all,” Hill wrote in the post.
Tonight, Republicans and Democrats stood shoulder to shoulder in a vigil on the House steps to demand the release of all hostages held by #Hamas.
— French Hill (@RepFrenchHill) November 7, 2023
Stevens spoke out about the hostages during the vigil, stating: “There are hostages of 25 different nationalities. These hostages include women, children, elderly people, and babies.”
“These hostages must be returned safely to their homes now. There is no time to waste,” Stevens added.
Both Stevens and Hill called for their resolution, which passed unanimously through the House Foreign Affairs Committee earlier that day, to be brought to the House floor for a vote as soon as possible.
Following a moment of silence, Johnson concluded by leading the group in a prayer — where he asked for strength and encouragement for the hostages and their families, and asked for wisdom for lawmakers and officials in both the U.S. and Israel.
“Lord, help us to be united as one as we do what is right and just,” Johnson concluded.