After former President Donald Trump praised Hezbollah as "very smart" and criticized Israel's defense minister, the country's Minister of Communications, Shlomo Karhi, slammed his statements as "shameful."
Hamas initiated a shocking attack on Israel over the weekend, prompting Israel to declare war and retaliate. Israeli authorities have reported dozens of captives held hostage in Gaza, although precise numbers remain unconfirmed. Hamas claimed on Sunday that it was holding more than 100 hostages.
Since then, Israel has been forced to defend its border with Lebanon amid concerns that Hezbollah—the Lebanese Shia Islamist political party and militant group—is likely to join Hamas’ war and escalate the conflict.
Against this backdrop, Trump also attacked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whom he accused of “letting him down,” and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, whom he called a “jerk.”
"And [Israel] said, 'Gee, I hope Hezbollah doesn't attack from the north because that's the most vulnerable spot!' I said, 'Wait a minute, you know, Hezbollah's very smart, they're all very smart.'" ...
"You know that President [Xi Jinping] of China? 1.4 billion people. He controls it with an iron fist."
"I said he was a very smart man. [The press] killed me the next day! I said he was smart! What am I going to say?"
"But Hezbollah is very smart and [Israel has] a national defense minister or somebody saying, 'I hope Hezbollah doesn't attack us from the north!' And the following morning, they attacked."
You can hear what Trump said in the video below.
These statements prompted the following response from Karhi, who noted Trump's remarks "obviously" show he cannot be relied on to support Israel:
"[It is] shameful that a man like that, a former US president, abets propaganda and disseminates things that wound the spirit of Israel’s fighters and its citizens.”
“We don’t have to bother with him and the nonsense he spouts."
Trump's statements soon caught the attention of Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis, a 2024 GOP presidential hopeful who has been trounced by Trump in the polls.
In a post on X, DeSantis said "it is absurd that anyone, much less someone running for President, would choose now to attack our friend and ally, Israel, much less praise Hezbollah terrorists as 'very smart.'"
Trump's remarks have been widely condemned.
The United States and its allies are cautioning Hezbollah against escalating the situation in Israel.
Simultaneously, the US is positioning military resources as a deterrent to any potential expansion of the conflict, according to CNN, which cited conversations with multiple U.S. officials and individuals privy to these discussions.
Senior Biden administration officials do not currently perceive Hezbollah's intent to fully engage alongside Hamas in the conflict with Israel. Despite some border escalations, officials believe that these warnings are having an impact.