Donald Trump blamed President Joe Biden for Hamas’ attack on Israel on Saturday, claiming the long-simmering Israeli-Palestinian conflict had erupted into new violence because Biden was perceived as “weak.”
“It was a major attack with a lot of deaths everywhere,” Trump told an audience at a rally in Waterloo, Iowa. “Who would think that? And the only difference, in my opinion, is the difference between one president and another president.”
According to Israeli and Palestinian officials, the attack killed more than 100 people in Israel and 232 people in Gaza Saturday afternoon. Thousands more are injured and Hamas militants have taken an unknown number of people hostage.
At the Iowa rally, Trump claimed that a number of geopolitical conflicts would not have occurred if he had remained president.
“They weren’t that aggressive toward me,” he said. “They didn’t have it. That would never have happened to me. Do you know what wouldn’t have happened? Ukraine wouldn’t have happened. Taiwan and all these tough talks with Taiwan wouldn’t have happened.”
It’s hardly a historical claim. Russian forces have been advancing on Ukrainian territory in Crimea since at least 2014. China’s territorial ambitions in Taiwan go back decades, and violent conflicts between Israel and Palestine are even older; The Nakba, in which some 700,000 Palestinians were expelled from the region, took place 75 years ago that maybe.
But Trump claimed further that “the Israeli attack was carried out because we were perceived as weak and ineffective and had a really weak leader.”
Trump also raised an emerging Republican talking point: Biden enabled the attack by releasing $6 billion in Iranian funds as part of a prisoner swap last month.
A State Department spokesman had previously refuted this theory. “Let’s be clear: The deal to bring U.S. citizens home from Iran has nothing to do with the horrific attack on Israel,” State Department spokesman Matthew Miller wrote in a statement early Saturday. “Not a cent has been spent, and if it has, it can only be used for humanitarian purposes such as food and medicine.” Anything to the contrary is false.”
These funds are currently located in Qatar, said the State Department.
Other members of the Trump family also spoke out about perceived American “weakness” surrounding Saturday’s Hamas attack.
“While we constantly indoctrinate our children with weakness, feminize our boys, attack manly men, glorify trans insanity, etc.” Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr. tweeted: “Just understand that one day the savages you see will be like them brutally attacking innocent civilians on the streets of Israel will be on your doorstep and you and your loved ones will have ZERO ability to defend yourself. “That is the future the left is creating for you.”
Earlier in the day, Trump Jr. posted a video of a corpse in Israel, warning that “this cruelty is coming here.”