Trump says Israel has to get Gaza war over ‘fast,’ warns it is ‘losing the PR war’

Apr 4, 2024, 10:51 AM

NEW YORK (AP) — Former President Donald Trump offered a tough message to Israel in its war against Hamas on Thursday, urging the country to: “Get it over with.”

In an interview with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, Trump said that Israel is “absolutely losing the PR war” and called for a swift resolution to the bloodshed.

“Get it over with and let’s get back to peace and stop killing people. And that’s a very simple statement,” Trump said. “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.”

The presumptive GOP nominee, who has criticized President Joe Biden for being insufficiently supportive of Israel, also appeared to question the tactics of the Israeli military as the civilian death toll in Gaza continues to mount. Since Hamas militants attacked Israel on Oct. 7, Israel’s military has battered the territory, killing more than 30,000 Palestinians, according to the Gaza Health Ministry, and creating a humanitarian catastrophe.

“You’ve got to get it over with and you have to get back to normalcy. And I’m not sure that I’m loving the way they’re doing it, because you’ve got to have victory. You have to have a victory, and it’s taking a long time,” Trump said.

He specifically criticized Israel’s decision to release footage of its offensive actions. Throughout the war, the Israeli military has released videos of airstrikes and other attacks striking what it describes as “terrorist infrastructure.”

“They shouldn’t be releasing tapes like that,” he said. “That’s why they’re losing the PR war. They, Israel is absolutely losing the PR war.”

“They’re releasing the most heinous, most horrible tapes of buildings falling down. And people are imagining there’s a lot of people in those buildings, or people in those buildings, and they don’t like it,” he added. “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.”

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

Biden’s administration has broadly backed Israeli efforts to try to remove Hamas’ grip over Gaza, even as he has called for a short term cease-fire to free hostages and surge humanitarian aid. He has also expressed concern that Israel’s operation is isolating it on the world stage.

That concern has intensified since an Israeli air strike this week killed seven World Central Kitchen humanitarian aide workers try to deliver food to Palestinians.

Biden on Thursday was speaking with Netanyahu in the wake of the strike and amid his administration’s ongoing efforts to dissuade Israel from launching a major offensive against the southern Gaza city of Rafah, where more than a million civilians are sheltering.

Biden 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.

Still Biden has sustained American military support for Israel’s war effort and his administration has defended Israel’s right to defend itself, if not always its means.

Biden has also tried unsuccessfully to broker a six week ceasefire to allow more aid into Gaza and to secure the release of some of the remaining hostages held by Hamas. His administration has blamed Hamas for not accepting the terms.

Trump was criticized by some in Israel for comments he made to the Israeli newspaper Israel Hayom 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.

___ Associated Press writers Josef Federman in Jerusalem and Zeke Millers in Washington contributed to this report.

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Trump says Israel has to get Gaza war over ‘fast,’ warns it is ‘losing the PR war’