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House Passes Strengthening Tools to Counter the Use of Human Shields Act

(April 16, 2024)

This bill extends the authority of the President to impose sanctions on foreign persons using human shields through 2030 and requires the President to impose such sanctions on each foreign person determined to be a member of Palestine Islamic Jihad and orders, controls, or otherwise directs the use of human shields. Currently, such sanctions are (1) required for users of human shields who are members of Hamas or Hezbollah or supporters of those groups, and (2) authorized for other users of human shields.

The President must also determine if a person named in certain congressional requests meets the criteria for such sanctions and report on whether the President intends to impose sanctions on that person.

Additionally, the Department of Defense must report to Congress on the implications of the use of human shields by Hamas, Hezbollah, and Palestine Islamic Jihad.

The bill passed by a vote of 419-4 with Democrats Ilhan Omar, D-MN, Cori Bush, D-MO, and Rashida Tlaib, D-MI – and Republican of Kentucky Thomas Massie voting no.

2d Session

H. R. 5917


April 17, 2024

Received; read twice and referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations


To amend the Sanctioning the Use of Civilians as Defenseless Shields Act to modify and extend that Act, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,


This Act may be cited as the “Strengthening Tools to Counter the Use of Human Shields Act”.


It shall be the policy of the United States to fully implement and enforce sanctions against terrorist organizations and other malign actors that use innocent civilians as human shields.


(a) In General.—Section 3 of the Sanctioning the Use of Civilians as Defenseless Shields Act (Public Law 115–34850 U.S.C. 1701 note) is amended—

(A) by redesignating paragraph (3) as paragraph (4); and

(B) by inserting after paragraph (2) the following:

“(3) Each foreign person that the President determines, on or after the date of the enactment of the Strengthening Tools to Counter the Use of Human Shields Act—

“(A) is a member of Palestine Islamic Jihad or is knowingly acting on behalf of Palestine Islamic Jihad; and

“(B) knowingly orders, controls, or otherwise directs the use of civilians protected as such by the law of war to shield military objectives from attack.”;

(2) by redesignating subsections (e), (f), (g), (h), and (i) as subsections (f), (g), (h), (i), and (j), respectively; and


(3) by inserting after subsection (d) the following:

“(e) Congressional Requests.—Not later than 120 days after receiving a request from the chairman and ranking member of one of the appropriate congressional committees with respect to whether a foreign person meets the criteria of a person described in subsection (b) or (c), the President shall—

“(1) determine if the person meets such criteria; and

“(2) submit a written justification to the chairman and ranking member detailing whether or not the President imposed or intends to impose sanctions described in subsection (b) or (c) with respect to such person.”.

(b) Definitions.—Section 4 of the Sanctioning the Use of Civilians as Defenseless Shields Act (Public Law 115–34850 U.S.C. 1701 note) is amended—

(1) by redesignating paragraph (7) as paragraph (8); and

(2) by inserting after paragraph (6) the following:

“(7) PALESTINE ISLAMIC JIHAD.—The term ‘Palestine Islamic Jihad’ means—

“(A) the entity known as Palestine Islamic Jihad and designated by the Secretary of State as a foreign terrorist organization pursuant to section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1189); or

“(B) any person identified as an agent or instrumentality of Palestine Islamic Jihad on the list of specially designated nationals and blocked persons maintained by the Office of Foreign Asset Control of the Department of the Treasury, the property or interests in property of which are blocked pursuant to the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.).”.

(c) Sunset.—Section 5 of the Sanctioning the Use of Civilians as Defenseless Shields Act (Public Law 115–34850 U.S.C. 1701 note) is amended by striking “December 31, 2023” and inserting “December 31, 2030”.

(d) Severability.—The Sanctioning the Use of Civilians as Defenseless Shields Act (Public Law 115–34850 U.S.C. 1701 note) is amended by adding at the end the following:


“If any provision of this Act, or the application of such provision to any person or circumstance, is found to be unconstitutional, the remainder of this Act, or the application of that provision to other persons or circumstances, shall not be affected.”.


(a) In General.—Not later than 120 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Defense shall submit to the congressional defense committees, the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives, and the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate a report that contains the following:

(1) A description of the lessons learned from the United States and its allies and partners in addressing the use of human shields by terrorist organizations such as Hamas, Hezbollah, Palestine Islamic Jihad, and any other organization as determined by the Secretary of Defense.

(2) A description of a specific plan and actions being taken by the Department of Defense to incorporate the lessons learned as identified in paragraph (1) into Department of Defense operating guidance, relevant capabilities, and tactics, techniques, and procedures to deter, counter, and address the challenge posed by the use of human shields and hold accountable terrorist organizations for the use of human shields.

(3) A description of specific measures being developed and implemented by the United States Government to mobilize and leverage allied nations, including member nations of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), to deter, counter, and hold accountable terrorist organizations for the use of human shields.

(4) The current status of joint exercises, doctrine development, education, and training on countering the use of human shields in multinational centers of excellence.

(5) The current status of participation of members of the Armed Forces and Department of Defense civilian personnel in any multinational center of excellence for the purposes of countering the use of human shields.

(6) The feasibility and advisability of beginning or continuing participation of members of the Armed Forces and Department of Defense civilian personnel to promote the integration of joint exercises, doctrine development, education, and training on countering the use of human shields into multinational centers of excellence.

(b) Definition.—In this section, the term “multinational center of excellence” has the meaning given that term in section 344 of title 10, United States Code.

Passed the House of Representatives April 16, 2024.

Attest: Kevin F. McCumber,