Trump says Israel made ‘very big mistake’ with Gaza destruction

Former President Trump says Israel made a “very big mistake” with the invasion of Gaza, noting that broadcast images of the widespread destruction have turned many against the country in his strongest criticism of Israel since the beginning of its war against Hamas last year.

In an interview with Israel Hayom on Sunday, Trump criticized the Israeli government for its publicizing its mass-bombing campaign against Gaza and the rampant destruction caused by its ongoing ground invasion, which came after more than 1,100 Israelis were killed in a Hamas attack on Oct. 7.

Trump said a rise in antisemitism in the U.S. and abroad is because Israel “fought back.”

“I think Israel made a very big mistake,” he said. “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,” he continued. “The world is seeing this … every night, I would watch buildings pour down on people. It would say it was given by the Defense Ministry, and said whoever’s providing that, that’s a bad image.”

Trump reiterated his support for Israel, but he said images of the heavy-handed military response have sparked anti-Israeli and antisemitic sentiment.

“Go and do what you have to do. But you don’t do that,” he said, referring to mass bombings. “And I think that’s one of the reasons that there has been a lot of kickback. 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.”

He later urged the country’s leadership to change its public image in the conflict.

“Israel has to get better with the promotional and with the public relations, because right now they’re in ruin,” Trump said. “They’re being hurt very badly, I think in a public relations sense.”

The criticism comes as Democrats continue to raise pressure on the Israeli government over civilian casualties and the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. More than 32,000 Palestinians have been killed, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.

While both Trump and President Biden have stated they strongly support Israel, Democrats have been more aggressive in recent weeks in critiquing the country. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) called for new elections in Israel earlier this month, which Trump criticized.

Biden also said the Israeli military offensive has “gone too far,” arguing that the leadership of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is “hurting Israel more than helping Israel.” Trump similarly called out those comments, claiming Biden “dumped” Netanyahu.

Trump has mostly stayed out of commenting on the Israel-Hamas war, sending mixed messages on specifics while adding he supports Israel. In November, he said the conflict should be left to “let things play out,” while earlier this month he urged the Israeli government to continue its invasion of Gaza.

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