Former President Donald Trump released a statement on Saturday blaming Hamas’ attack on Israel on United States taxpayer dollars.
Hamas carried out an unprecedented, multi-front attack on Israel at daybreak on Saturday. The Associated Press said that Hamas fired thousands of rockets, while dozens of Hamas fighters infiltrated the heavily fortified border in several locations by air, land and sea. The attack has left hundreds of people from both sides dead, according to the AP, while drawing international rebuke. The attack marks one of the most critical escalations of the conflict in recent years.
The former president blamed the attack on “American taxpayer dollars” in a statement Saturday morning on Truth Social, his social media platform. He wrote, “These Hamas attacks are a disgrace and Israel has every right to defend itself with overwhelming force. Sadly, American taxpayer dollars helped fund these attacks, which many reports are saying came from the Biden Administration. We brought so much peace to the Middle East through the Abraham Accords, only to see Biden whittle it away at a far more rapid pace than anyone thought possible. Here we go again.”
The Biden administration in 2021 reinstated assistance to the Palestinians, at the time providing them $235 million. Critics, however, warned that resuming the aid could bolster Hamas’ operations, a sentiment echoed by Trump. President Joe Biden has also faced backlash over a deal with Iran, which saw the release of U.S. hostages in exchange for the transfer of $6 billion in frozen Iranian funds from South Korea to Qatar.
Biden, however, has also continued funding for Israel, a longstanding Middle Eastern ally to the U.S. He signed legislation last year that provided $3.8 billion of funding for the country. Congress also authorized $520 million for joint U.S.-Israel defense programs in 2023, according to a Congressional Research Center report.
Members of the Biden administration, meanwhile, condemned the attack.
“We unequivocally condemn the appalling attacks by Hamas terrorists against Israel. We stand in solidarity with the government and people of Israel and extend our condolences for the Israeli lives lost in these attacks,” wrote Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a statement.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin wrote in a statement, “I am closely monitoring developments in Israel. Our commitment to Israel’s right to defend itself remains unwavering, and I extend my condolences to the families of those who lost their lives in this abhorrent attack on civilians. Over the coming days the Department of Defense will work to ensure that Israel has what it needs to defend itself and protect civilians from indiscriminate violence and terrorism.”
White House National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson also responded to criticism over the Iran deal in a post to X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.
“I can’t comment on 2024 because of the Hatch Act. But I can clarify the facts: Not a single cent from these funds has been spent, and when it is spent, it can only be spent on things like food and medicine for the Iranian people,” she wrote. “These funds have absolutely nothing to do with the horrific attacks today and this is not the time to spread disinformation.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared that “we are at war” during an address declaring a mass army mobilization, pledging that Hamas would pay an “unprecedented price,” the AP reported.
“Not an ‘operation,’ not a ’round,’ but at war,” Netanyahu said.
The Israeli military said it had launched air strikes into Gaza, writing in a statement posted to X, “This morning, approximately 2,200 rockets were launched from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory. In parallel, a number of terrorists infiltrated into Israeli territory in southern Israel. In response, the IDF has launched Operation ‘Swords of Iron.'”
Newsweek reached out to the White House, Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Hamas for comment via email.
Update 10/7/2023, 11:46 a.m. ET: This article was updated with additional information.
Update 10/7/2023 2:22 p.m. ET: This article was updated with additional information.