Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) on Sunday seemed to dismiss thousands of dead Palestinians as merely collateral damage in Israel’s war against Hamas, asserting that the Israeli government can do whatever it needs to win.
Appearing on CNN’s State of the Union, Graham was asked about the restarted fighting following the temporary ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. Graham urged the U.S. to put more pressure on Iran, a supporter of Hamas, before launching into a tirade against Vice President Kamala Harris’ declaration that too many Palestinian civilians have been killed.
“Here’s the big question: Vice President Harris has said, ‘Israel has a right to defend themselves. How you do it matters.’ The secretary of defense said it would be a strategic failure for Israel to have killed too many Palestinians,” Graham said. “I don’t want any Palestinian to die, but how do you do this? Vice President Harris, tell Israel how to destroy Hamas in a way not to hurt innocent Palestinians and I’ll pass it along.”
Graham said that Hamas allegedly embedding among civilian life in Gaza has dampened Israel’s ability to protect innocent lives. “The reason so many Palestinians are dying, I think, is because Hamas wants them to die,” Graham said. “If you have ideas about lessening civilian casualties, let me know, I’ll tell Israel. But the idea of Hamas still standing when this is over would be the ultimate strategic failure.”
CNN anchor Dana Bash further pressed Graham, asking him if he agreed with Harris and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin that too many Palestinians have died. The indignant senator demurred.
“Tell us how to do it differently,” Graham said. “What is too many people dying in World War II after Pearl Harbor? Did the American public worry about how many people were dying to destroy Tokyo and Berlin? I know this is not the same, but it’s similar.”
Graham said Republicans believed they had no right to tell Israel to change its military because “I don’t know how to change them.”
“I think the goal of destroying Hamas is important for Israel, really important for the Palestinians, and Hamas is making it impossible for Israel to fight without hurting innocent people,” Graham said.