Trump says he’s not ‘loving the way’ Israel is fighting in Gaza: It’s ‘losing PR war’

Former US president stresses support for IDF op against Hamas but calls to ‘get it over with’; rages at release of ‘the most heinous, most horrible tapes of buildings falling down’

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin, April 2, 2024. (AP/Mike Roemer)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin, April 2, 2024. (AP/Mike Roemer)

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump said Thursday that he’s not “loving the way” Israel is prosecuting its war against Hamas in Gaza, again taking issue with what he said has been the IDF’s regular publication of clips showing buildings it has demolished in the enclave.

“What I said very plainly is get it over with, and let’s get back to peace and stop killing people,” Trump said in an interview with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt. “They have to get it done. Get it over with and get it over with fast because we have to — you have to get back to normalcy and peace.”

“I’m not sure that I’m loving the way they’re doing it,” he continued.

The former US president, who has criticized US President Joe Biden for being insufficiently supportive of Israel, clarified that he wanted Israel to secure “victory.” But he lamented that “it’s taking a long time” and advised Netanyahu to quickly wrap up the war.

Trump specifically criticized Israel’s decision to release footage of its offensive actions, calling them “the most heinous, most horrible tapes of buildings falling down. People are imagining there are a lot of people in those buildings… and they don’t like it… To me, it doesn’t make them look tough. They’re losing the PR war. They’re losing it big.”

“But they’ve got to finish what they started, and they’ve got to finish it fast, and we have to get on with life,” he added.

The comments offered a vivid example of the attention Trump pays to imagery and optics as he measures the cost of war. But they also show the similarities between Trump’s and Biden’s positions, even as Trump has criticized Biden’s handling of the conflict, going so far as to charge that Jews who vote for Democrats “hate Israel” and hate “their religion”

Until Thursday, Biden’s administration had broadly backed Israeli efforts to try to remove Hamas’s grip over Gaza, even as he called for a short-term ceasefire to free hostages held by the terror group and surge humanitarian aid. He had also expressed concern that Israel’s operation was isolating it on the world stage.

That concern has intensified since an Israeli airstrike this week killed seven World Central Kitchen humanitarian aide workers delivering food in Gaza, adding a new layer of complication to Biden and Netanyahu’s increasingly strained relationship.

In a phone call Thursday Biden issued a stark new warning to Israel, telling Netanyahu that future US support for the war depends on new steps to protect civilians and aid workers.

Biden “made clear the need for Israel to announce and implement a series of specific, concrete, and measurable steps to address civilian harm, humanitarian suffering, and the safety of aid workers,” the White House said in a statement. He also told Netanyahu that an “immediate ceasefire is essential” and urged Israel to reach a deal “without delay.”

The tougher stance comes as the administration continues to try to dissuade Israel from launching a major offensive against the southern Gaza city of Rafah, where more than a million civilians are sheltering.

Biden had issued an unusually sharp statement after the aid workers’ deaths criticizing Israel for not doing more to protect humanitarian workers and civilians and for refusing to allow more food into the Gaza Strip.

US President Joe Biden (right) is greeted by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at Ben Gurion International Airport, October 18, 2023. (Evan Vucci/AP)

Trump has long labeled himself the most pro-Israel president in the nation’s history and often notes his decision to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem.

But Trump has also had a tense relationship with Netanyahu since he left the White House. Though the two were close allies for years, the former president responded with fury after the Israel leader congratulated then-president-elect Biden for winning the 2020 election while Trump was still trying to overturn the results.

In interviews for a book about his Middle East peace efforts, Trump, according to the author, used an expletive to describe Netanyahu, accused him of disloyalty and said he believed the Israeli leader never really wanted to make peace.

In the immediate aftermath of the October 7 attack by Hamas, Trump drew rare condemnation from his GOP rivals when he lashed out at Netanyahu, saying Israeli leaders needed to “step up their game” and that Netanyahu “was not prepared” for the terror onslaught that killed some 1,200 people. More than 250 people were also taken hostage.

At the time, Trump said that he supported the country’s efforts to “crush” Hamas.

Trump was also criticized by some in Israel for comments he made to the Israeli newspaper Israel Hayom last month calling for a swift end to the war.

“I will say Israel has to be very careful because you are losing a lot of the world. You are losing a lot of support,” he had warned.

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