Gov. Ron DeSantis is standing by Israel in the latest open conflict between the U.S. ally and Hamas, calling Hamas’ actions an “absolute disgrace.”
Hamas, a terrorist-designated group in control of the Palestinian territory of the Gaza Strip, launched a barrage of rockets at Jerusalem late Monday, escalating ground tensions into a new Israel-Hamas punching match that has left dozens dead.
“Make no mistake: Hamas is a terrorist group. They are at fault on this. Israel has every right to defend itself against Hamas,” DeSantis told reporters Wednesday.
The latest eruption of violence began a month ago in Jerusalem, where heavy-handed tactics from Israeli police during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and the threatened eviction of dozens of Palestinian families by Jewish settlers ignited protests and clashes with police. A focal point was the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, a site sacred to Jews and Muslims.
Since Monday, militants have fired more than 1,050 rockets from Gaza, according to the Israeli military, and Israel has conducted hundreds of strikes in the tiny territory where 2 million Palestinians have lived under a crippling Israeli-Egyptian blockade since Hamas took power in 2007.
“I have friends over there who have been having to hide out in bomb shelters overnight because of Hamas,” DeSantis said, adding that they are raining down rockets on civilians.
In 2019, the Governor led a Florida trade delegation to Israel, where he declared that he has a positive relationship with embattled Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. On that same trip, he told reporters that “Palestinian Arabs always wanted to get rid of the Jewish state more than they wanted their own state.”
DeSantis, who is up for reelection next year and is considered a contender for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, gave his analysis Wednesday of the geopolitical situation. Hamas is trying to “stake a claim” as a leader of the Palestinian Authority, including in the West Bank.
“They kind of have their little place down in Gaza where they foment a lot of terrorism. They’ve had a lot of problems going on with the Palestinian Authority. I think this is Hamas’ attempt to capitalize on that,” DeSantis said. “Our ally Israel has a right to defend themselves, and what’s going on by Hamas is an absolute disgrace.”
Soon after the press conference, the Governor tweeted a minute-long clip of his comments.
Hamas is a terrorist organization and Israel has the right to defend itself against terrorist attacks. pic.twitter.com/q6aAMUzu4F
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) May 12, 2021