The former US president and the frontrunner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination told Fox News that Israel prime minister Netanyahu failed to prepare against Hamas’ deadliest offensive and was caught unprepared.
“He has been hurt very badly because of what’s happened here,” Mr Trump said of Mr Netanyahu on Wednesday night. “He was not prepared. He was not prepared and Israel was not prepared.”
Israel has declared a state of war against Hamas and launched unprecedented strikes in Gaza after the surprise attack by the Palestinian terrorist group on Saturday that has led to the deaths of more than 1,200 Israelis and more than 2,700 are injured.
The Palestinian Ministry of Health said the death toll in Gaza has risen to 1,200, with about 5,500 wounded.
Mr Trump also praised Hezbollah, a group designated as a terrorist organisation by the US, for its intelligence on Hamas.
“You know, Hezbollah is very smart,” Trump said. “They’re all very smart.”
The group backed by Iran is believed to have fired artillery and rockets in solidarity with Hamas as Israel continues attacks on Gaza. Hezbollah militants fired rockets after its three members were killed in Israeli fire, Al Jazeera reported.
The remarks by Mr Trump were condemned by his Republican rival Ron DeSantis.
“It is absurd that anyone, much less someone running for President, would choose now to attack our friend and ally, Israel, much less praise Hezbollah terrorists as ‘very smart,’” Mr DeSantis said in a post on X/Twitter.
Mr Trump had a close relationship with Mr Netanyahu during his presidency but a rift started to show by the end of his presidency and Mr Trump later said Mr Netanyahu did not want peace with the Palestinians.
Speaking to supporters in Florida on Wednesday evening, Mr Trump again spoke about Israeli security’s failure on detecting the threat, pointing to “some of the things that went wrong over the last week”.
“They’ve gotta straighten it out because they’re fighting potentially a very big force, they’re fighting potentially with Iran,” Mr Trump said, referring to the Middle Eastern country’s reported funding of Hamas.
Steven Cheung, Mr Trump’s spokesperson, defended the former president’s stand and said it was rather a criticism of US officials for giving Hezbollah the idea to attack from the north.
“President Trump was clearly pointing out how incompetent Biden and his administration were by telegraphing to the terrorists an area that is susceptible to an attack,” Mr Cheung said. “Smart does not equal good.”
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