Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican who has often been at odds with the former president, posted on X, formerly Twitter: “Women, children, elderly, Israelis, and Americans alike have been slaughtered by these evil terrorists. It is never acceptable to praise deranged murderers or undermine one of our closest allies in their darkest hour.”
The rebukes of Trump from members of his own party come after the former president and frontrunner in the Republican presidential primary began unexpectedly criticizing Netanyahu on Wednesday in light of Israel’s ongoing war with the Palestinian militant group Hamas.
“He has been hurt very badly because of what’s happened here,” Trump said in an interview for Fox News Radio’s “Brian Kilmeade Show” that was featured on television on Wednesday night. “He was not prepared. He was not prepared and Israel was not prepared.”
Trump also chided the Israeli leader at a speech in Palm Beach, Fla., on Wednesday.
“I’ll never forget that Bibi Netanyahu let us down,” Trump said. “That was a very terrible thing.”
Trump went on to say that he had “a bad experience with Israel as president,” when his administration carried out a targeted airstrike in January 2020 to kill the Iranian general Qasem Soleimani, leader of the paramilitary Quds Force, who was in Baghdad at the time. According to Trump, Netanyahu refused to help the U.S. carry out the airstrikes.
In his speech, Trump also described the actions of the militant group Hezbollah — an Iranian-backed proxy group based in Lebanon that the U.S. and other governments have designated a terrorist group — as “very smart.”
Many of Trump’s GOP rivals have condemned his remarks, calling them “inhumane” and “absurd.” The White House called the comments “dangerous and unhinged” in a statement on Thursday.
Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, said that voters would be the ultimate judge of Trump’s rhetoric.
“Under our constitution, he has the liberty to say what he wants to say. He can be judged for it,” Thune said in an appearance on Fox News on Thursday. “That’s what the American people have to do. They’ll have an opportunity to do that in a presidential election coming up ahead of us.”
“I hope people as they look at these leaders will make decisions and conclusions based upon who they think is best able to manage not only the United States of America and our domestic challenges, but the global stage, where the rest of the world looks for leadership,” Thune continued.