The ruling Hamas militant group in the Gaza Strip launched an unprecedented multi-front assault on Israel early Saturday. Israel was caught off-guard during a major Jewish holiday when thousands of rockets lit up the sky, and dozens of Hamas fighters infiltrated the country from multiple fronts: air, land, and sea. [Source]
In response, Israel conducted a series of airstrikes on Gaza. The Prime Minister of Israel confirmed that the country is now “at war” with Hamas, pledging to exact an “unprecedented price.”
The consequences of this unexpected assault are grim. At least 250 Israeli citizens were killed, and another 1,500 were injured, as reported by Magen David Adom, Israel’s national emergency services agency. The severity of the attack, the deadliest in decades, can be seen in videos displaying the bodies of Israeli civilians lying in the streets.
Furthermore, on Saturday, it was confirmed that a “substantial” number of Israelis had been taken hostage in Gaza by Hamas militants.
Gaza too faced repercussions. Israeli counterattacks led to the deaths of at least 232 individuals, with 1,697 injured, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.
In the wake of these severe attacks on Israel, leading GOP presidential candidates expressed their deep concerns, leveling criticism at President Biden’s foreign policy decisions. [Source]
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis was at the forefront, attributing the strengthening of Iran to the Biden administration. He pointed out the decision to release $6 billion in frozen Iranian assets. “If I were president for when Biden has been, Iran wouldn’t be in the position where they are causing such havoc,” DeSantis said during his bus tour in Iowa.
Advocating for a more assertive stance, DeSantis stated, “It’s not enough to just launch a strike, when you’re dealing with Hamas you need to uproot the entire terror network,” he emphasized in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
DeSantis also expressed concerns about international pressure impacting Israel’s responses, especially from bodies like the United Nations and Europe. On the topic of the released Iranian funds, he said money is “fungible.”
At a campaign event in Fort Madison, Iowa, DeSantis criticized Biden directly, saying, “If Israel is being attacked, I would want to be woken up and engaged in that.”
Former President Donald Trump remarked during his Iowa campaign trail, “I would not be at all surprised if part of that tremendous wealth went into all of a sudden watching this level of aggression. They didn’t have that level of aggression with me.”
Reflecting on his presidency, Trump discussed his decision to move the American Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. He stressed that it was in the “best interests of the United States of America and the pursuit of peace between Israel and the Palestinians.”
Entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy echoed DeSantis’s sentiments about the “fungibility” of funds and criticized Biden for not meeting face-to-face with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. However, Ramaswamy’s position on Israel and its financial relationship with the U.S. has sparked disagreements with fellow candidate Nikki Haley.
Haley, the former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, voiced her distress over the recent events on Fox News, urging Israel to retaliate robustly against Hamas. She also expressed skepticism over the $6 billion in oil revenues, implying potential misuse.
Former Vice President Mike Pence stressed the importance for President Biden to assure consistent military support for Israel. He highlighted concerns about perceived “voices of appeasement” in the GOP, suggesting they might have influenced the recent events.
Other figures, like former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and South Carolina Senator Tim Scott, emphasized bipartisan support for Israel while criticizing the current administration.
The developments in the Middle East have underscored the need for decisive leadership and ignited a comprehensive debate on America’s foreign policy stance. GOP leaders, particularly DeSantis and Trump, appear ready to place this at the heart of their campaigns.