Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis weighed in on the current Middle East conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. The Republican governor blasted Hamas, placing blame on the group for the recent bloodshed in the tumultuous region, and emphasized that Israelis have the "right to defend themselves."
"I also wanted to just make a comment about what's happening in the Middle East," DeSantis said during a Wednesday press conference. "I have friends over there who have been having to hide out in bomb shelters overnight, because of Hamas, which is a terrorist group, raining down rockets on civilians."
"And make no mistake, Hamas is a terrorist group," DeSantis proclaimed. "They are at fault on this. Israel has every right to defend itself against Hamas. And I think if you look at what's going on here, it really isn't so much about Israel, it's about Hamas trying to stake a claim to be the leader of the entire Palestinian Authority."
"They kind of have their little place down in Gaza where they foment a lot of terrorism," DeSantis explained. "They've had a lot of problems going on with the Palestinian Authority. I think this is Hamas' attempt to capitalize on that. But our ally Israel has a right to defend themselves and what's going on by Hamas is an absolute disgrace."
Ron DeSantis' commentary on world conflicts could hint at presidential run
The Florida governor delivered his remarks about the violent situation on the other side of the world as speculation grows that DeSantis could be eyeing up a run for president in 2024. A new poll from the Trafalgar Group found that DeSantis is far and away the most popular Republican presidential candidate if Donald Trump decides not to run in 2024. The nationwide survey, conducted between April 30 and May 6, discovered that DeSantis currently gets almost 35% support from likely GOP voters in the 2024 Republican presidential primary, which is nearly the same amount as the next three potential candidates combined – Ted Cruz, Mitt Romney, and Mike Pence.
An Echelon Insights poll from April declared DeSantis to be the early leader with 20% of the vote if Trump doesn't run for president. A Just the News survey from late February stated that DeSantis was the leading Republican 2024 candidate if former President Donald Trump sits out 2024, with 21% of the vote. During the Conservative Political Action Conference in February, Republicans overwhelmingly supported DeSantis in the 2024 election, with 43% supporting his presidential run if Trump bows out.
Latest update on the Israel-Gaza conflict
More than 1,500 rockets have been launched from Gaza toward Israel since Monday, according to the Israel Defense Forces. There are a reported 83 deaths in Gaza and seven in Israel, according to the BBC. Four senior Hamas commanders and a dozen more Hamas operatives were killed by Israeli airstrikes, the Guardian reported.
Violence erupted in the streets of Israel late Wednesday as Arab and Jewish mobs attacked each other. Following the night of "anarchy," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said "nothing justifies" the street violence and vowed to restore order "with an iron fist if necessary."
"It doesn't matter to me that your blood is boiling," Netanyahu said. "You can't take the law in your hands."
Israel has prepared combat troops along the Gaza border and is in "various stages of preparing ground operations," a military spokesman said on Thursday.
"The chief of staff is inspecting those preparations and providing guidance," said Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, international spokesperson of the IDF.
Hamas armed wing spokesman Abu Ubaida responded to Israel's troop buildup with a threat.
"Mass up as you wish, from the sea, land and sky. We have prepared for your kinds of deaths that would make you curse yourselves," Ubaida proclaimed.