Lindsey Graham slams Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin for warning Israel faces ‘strategic defeat’ against Hamas because of civilian casualties in Gaza
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said he has lost “all confidence” in US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin after warning that Israel faces a “strategic defeat” if it cannot limit civilian casualties in Gaza.
During a Sunday morning appearance on CNN's State of the Union with Dana Bash, Graham countered that Israel's “strategic failure” would amount to “letting Hamas stand.”
He made the comment in response to a question about Secretary Austin's recent claim that Israel's continued murder of civilians in Gaza in its effort to eradicate Hamas would yield a “tactical victory” at the expense of a “strategic” victory.
'He's so naive. I just lost all confidence in this man,” Graham said, slightly irritated.
“Secretary Austin is telling Israel things that are impossible to accomplish,” he said, asking what strategy the DoD chief would propose implementing to root out Hamas.
“If you have a better idea about how to defeat Hamas, pass it on, but stop publicly criticizing Israel,” he continued.
Senator Lindsey Graham said the DoD leader should stop publicly criticizing Israel's military tactics
'Would a strategic defeat inflame the Palestinians? They are already inflamed. From birth they are taught to hate and kill the Jews.”
Graham called Gaza's civilian population “radicalized” and cited the way Israeli hostages were treated by Palestinian civilians as evidence.
On Saturday, Austin said during a speech at the Reagan National Defense Forum in Simi Valley, California, that the “civilian population” of Gaza is the “center of gravity” in the ongoing battle between the two sides.
“And if you drive them into the arms of the enemy, you replace tactical victory with strategic defeat,” he said.
Hamas leaders say the number of casualties in Gaza has reached 15,000 since October 7, most of whom are women and children.
“The reason so many Palestinians are dying, I think, is because Hamas wants them to die,” Graham said as Bash gestured to the number of dead Palestinians.
“Not a single Republican,” he said, “revealing Israel to change their military tactics,” because it is not clear how they would change them and still achieve the goal of defeating Hamas.
Late last week, Israel said it would continue its military operation in Gaza after a ceasefire that lasted several days, while some of the approximately 240 Israeli hostages were exchanged for three times the number of Palestinian terrorists.
Hamas eventually broke the ceasefire and decided not to pause the fighting to release more hostages at this time.
On Saturday, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Israel is sacrificing a strategic victory for a tactical victory because of the rising number of dead Palestinians.
Hamas authorities claim more than 15,000 Palestinians have been killed since they started the war on October 7
Some injured Palestinians are seen at Al-Shifa Hospital, where thousands of injured and displaced people reside
Following a temporary ceasefire that Hamas broke last week, Israel announced that its military operation in Gaza has resumed
Graham, a longtime foreign policy man, said he thinks the way to continue pushing for more freed hostages, some of whom are believed to be U.S. citizens, is to put pressure on Iran.
“Hamas cannot exist without Iranian help,” he said.
Over the weekend, Israeli forces continued to bomb parts of Gaza territory, killing and wounding dozens of Palestinians.
For weeks, Israel has warned civilians in Gaza against moving south into the enclave as their battle against Hamas raged in the north, and it was still billed as a safer option despite continued Israeli bombing of Khan Younis and other areas.
Now the IDF has declared that they are fighting “strongly and thoroughly” in the south, with warnings to displaced civilians to evacuate even further south, away from the fighting.
Chief of the General Staff Herzi Halevi said on Sunday: “Yesterday and today we eliminated brigade commanders, company commanders and many officers, and yesterday morning we started the same process in the southern Gaza Strip,” he said.
On Sunday evening, Israel also announced that it had eliminated a key Hamas figure who organized the October 7 attacks. A statement said an IDF aircraft shot down and killed Commander Haitham Khuwajari, head of Hamas' Shati Battalion.
Israel has vowed to destroy Hamas after the October 7 attack in which 1,200 Israelis were barbarically murdered. The Iranian-backed group has vowed the destruction of Israel