Trump: Oct. 7 attack, Israel’s response wouldn’t have happened if I were president

Ex-president doesn’t reject Harris call for ceasefire, but says Israel must ‘finish the job’; claims Biden emboldens Iran, which had no cash for Hamas when he was president

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US bureau chief

Former US president Donald Trump speaks at his Mar-a-Lago estate, Monday, March 4, 2024, in Palm Beach, Florida. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
Former US president Donald Trump speaks at his Mar-a-Lago estate, Monday, March 4, 2024, in Palm Beach, Florida. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

Former US president Donald Trump said Tuesday that Hamas’s October 7 onslaught, as well as the subsequent war Israel is waging against the Gaza terror group, “would never have happened” if he were still in the White House.

“It would have never happened if I was president. Iran was broke… They had no money for Hamas, for Hezbollah, they were broke,” he said in a “Fox & Friends” phone interview.

“They wouldn’t have done it to me. I guarantee you that. They did this because they have no respect for [US President Joe] Biden.”

Asked whether he supports the way the Israel Defense Forces is fighting in Gaza, Trump responded, “You’ve gotta finish the problem. You had a horrible invasion [that] took place.”

Trump also made the same claim about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022 and the ongoing war there.

“Likewise, Russia would never never have attacked Ukraine,” he said. “Never. You know it, everybody knows it. This is all on Biden.”

As for whether he thinks Biden is in the process of “abandoning Israel,” Trump responded, “I do believe that,” before mocking his successor’s mental competence.

“It’s the fascists and the communists [who] surround him. They’re making the calls,” he claimed.

In January, Trump called Biden “the worst president we’ve had in the history of the country” and vowed to repair the damage he claimed the president has done.

Asked whether he supports US Vice President Kamala Harris’s call for a temporary ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, Trump did not outright dismiss the idea, instead reiterating, “This attack on Israel, and likewise, Israel’s counter attack — which is what it is — would never have happened if I was president.”

He appeared to again claim that the 2020 US election was stolen before saying, “all these people that are dead in Ukraine and Russia and Israel, all these areas that are destroyed — people would be leading great lives right now.”

“We’re gonna end up in World War III,” Trump claimed.

Troops operating in Gaza in an undated photo released by the military for publication on March 4, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)

The former president made similar claims in January after winning the primary election in Iowa. Without providing any substantiation for his claim, he said then that if he were to be reelected in November’s US elections, he would solve the wars in Gaza and Ukraine “very fast.” He did not detail how he would achieve this.

In the immediate aftermath of the October 7 attack, in which Hamas terrorists rampaged through Israel’s south, killing some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and kidnapping 253, Trump criticized Israel for failing to anticipate the onslaught. He also called Defense Minister Yoav Gallant a “jerk” while praising the Lebanese Hezbollah terror group as “very smart.”

Trump’s repeated comments on solving Israel’s woes echoed statements made during his 2016 campaign, in which he said he could resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict like he would a real estate dispute.

During his years in the White House, however, Trump alienated the Palestinians by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and opening a US embassy in the city. A peace plan formulated by his administration barely got off the ground.

Trump’s administration did broker the Abraham Accords, which saw Israel reach normalization agreements with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco.

There had been an effort to get Saudi Arabia to join the deal, but US Deputy National Security Council Adviser Jon Finer said the effort was hindered by the lack of “anything that amounted to a step forward for Palestinians.”

The Biden administration has sought to get that deal across the finish line and claims it was close to doing so before the October 7 onslaught. The US says it is working to broker that agreement, viewing it as part of a broader diplomatic initiative that would bring an end to the war, see Israel further integrated into the region and establish a pathway to an eventual state for the Palestinians.

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