Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis unloaded on the Palestinian terrorist organization Hamas on Wednesday while President Joe Biden failed to directly condemn the organization later in the afternoon when asked about the recent violence in the Middle East.
“I also wanted to just make a comment about what’s happening in the Middle East,” DeSantis said. “I have friends over there who have been having to hide out in bomb shelters overnight, because of Hamas, which is a terrorist group, raining down rockets on civilians.”
“And make no mistake, Hamas is a terrorist group,” DeSantis continued. “They are at fault on this. Israel has every right to defend itself against Hamas. And I think if you look at what’s going on here, it really isn’t so much about Israel, it’s about Hamas trying to stake a claim to be the leader of the entire Palestinian Authority.”
“They kind of have their little place down in Gaza where they foment a lot of terrorism,” DeSantis concluded. “They’ve had a lot of problems going on with the Palestinian Authority. I think this is Hamas’s attempt to capitalize on that. But our ally Israel has a right to defend themselves and what’s going on by Hamas is an absolute disgrace.”
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
Later in the afternoon, Biden was asked to respond to the violence in the Middle East and asked about conversations that he has had with officials there.
“My national security staff and defense staff has been in constant contact with their counterparts in the Middle East, not just with the Israelis, but also with everyone from the Egyptians, to the Saudis, to the Emirates, etc.,” Biden said. “And I had a conversation with Bibi Netanyahu not too long ago; I’ll be putting out a statement very shortly on that. My expectation and hope is that this will be closing down sooner than later.”
Biden said that Israel had a right to defend itself from attacks, but he did not call out or condemn Hamas for their actions. However, the White House subsequently released a read-out summary of Biden’s call with Netanyahu, which did contain condemnation of the rocket attacks by Hamas.
The White House read-out stated:
President Biden spoke today with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He condemned the rocket attacks by Hamas and other terrorist groups, including against Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. He conveyed his unwavering support for Israel’s security and for Israel’s legitimate right to defend itself and its people, while protecting civilians. He also conveyed the United States’ encouragement of a pathway toward restoring a sustainable calm. He shared his conviction that Jerusalem, a city of such importance to people of faith from around the world, must be a place of peace. He updated the Prime Minister on the United States’ diplomatic engagement with regional countries, including Egypt, Jordan, and Qatar, as well as with Palestinian officials.
The two leaders agreed to maintain the close consultation between their teams, which has included consistent engagement by their respective foreign ministers, defense ministers, chiefs of defense, and national security advisors, and to stay in touch personally in the days ahead.
This article has been updated to include additional information, including to reflect that the White House said later Wednesday that Biden “condemned the rocket attacks by Hamas” in a phone call with the prime minister of Israel.