Trump calls on Israel to ‘finish up’ the war in Gaza because it is ‘losing a lot of the world’

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Donald Trump has called on Israel to “finish up” its war in Gaza because it is losing support around the world.

In an interview with Israeli newspaper Israel Hayom, the former president said he had watched images of bombs being dropped on residential buildings in Gaza every night, calling it a “big mistake”.

“You have to finish up your war ... You gotta get it done. And I am sure you will do that. And we gotta get to peace, we can’t have this going on. And I will say, Israel has to be very careful, because you’re losing a lot of the world, you’re losing a lot of support,” he told the newspaper.

The former president has refrained from issuing running commentary on the war since the Hamas attacks of 7 October and the subsequent Israeli response. The comments represent his most forceful intervention yet on the matter ahead of the United Nations Security Council vote on Monday that demanded a ceasefire in Gaza, which the US abstained from.

When asked how he would have countered a rise in anti-Semitism that followed the Hamas attacks and Israel’s response, Mr Trump appeared to blame the images of Israeli bombings coming out of Gaza.

“Well, that’s because you fought back,” he said. “And I think Israel made a very big mistake. I wanted to call [Israel] and say don’t do it. These photos and shots. I mean, moving shots of bombs being dropped into buildings in Gaza. And I said, Oh, that’s a terrible portrait. It’s a very bad picture for the world. The world is seeing this … every night, I would watch buildings pour down on people.”

When pressed on the presence of Hamas fighters in the buildings struck by Israel, Mr Trump said, “Go and do what you have to do. But you don’t do that”.

“And I think that’s one of the reasons that there has been a lot of kickback,” he added. “If people didn’t see that, every single night I’ve watched every single one of those. And I think Israel wanted to show that it’s tough, but sometimes you shouldn’t be doing that.”

Mr Trump blamed President Joe Biden for the war.

“He can’t talk. He’s a very dumb person. He’s a dumb person. His foreign policy throughout 50 years has been horrible,” Mr Trump said during the interview at Mar-a-Lago. “If you look at people that were in other administrations with him, they saw him as a weak, ineffective president, they [Hamas] would have never done that attack if I were there.”

Mr Trump repeated his argument that Jewish people who don’t back him “hate Israel”.

When asked how he would react if his children or grandchildren had been kidnapped by Hamas, Mr Trump said he “would act very much the same way as you did. You would have to be crazy not to. Only a fool would not do that. That was a horrible attack”.

Mr Trump was asked about recent comments by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who called for new elections to be held and for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to be replaced.

“I think it’s a terrible thing to do because it takes all of your momentum away,” Mr Trump said, going on to call progressive Democratic lawmakers in the US “lunatics” who “hate Israel” and the Jewish people.

“Israel has to get better with the promotional and with the public relations because right now they’re in ruin,” Mr Trump told Israel Hayom.

Mr Netanyahu cancelled a trip to Washington on Monday after the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution calling for a ceasefire. The US allowed the vote to pass by abstaining.

In recent weeks, the Biden administration has publicly called for Israel to rethink its plan to invade the city of Rafah, where more than a million Palestinians are sheltering after being displaced from across the territory.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Mr Netanyahu on Friday. As he left the country, he told reporters he had “candid conversations” with the Israeli prime minister.

He added that such an offensive in Rafah “risks killing more civilians. It risks wreaking greater havoc with the humanitarian assistance. It risks further isolating Israel around the world and jeopardising its long-term security and standing.”

Mr Netanyahu has baulked at the suggestions, however, and said following his meeting with Mr Blinken he remained committed to launching an operation in the city.

“I also said that we have no way to defeat Hamas without going into Rafah and eliminating the rest of the battalions there. And I told him that I hope we will do it with the support of the US, but if we have to, we will do it alone,” he said in a video statement.