The US should place “no limit” to civilian casualties Israel might inflict in Gaza in response to the Hamas terror attacks of 7 October, a senior Republican senator said.
Speaking to CNN, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina was asked: “Is there a threshold for you, and do you think there should be one for the United States government, in which the US would say, ‘Let’s hold off for a second in terms of civilian casualties?’”
Graham said: “No. If somebody asked us after world war two, ‘Is there a limit what would you do to make sure that Japan and Germany don’t conquer the world? Is there any limit what Israel should do to the people who are trying to slaughter the Jews?’
“The answer is no. There is no limit.”
Graham said Israel should “be smart” and “try to limit civilian casualties the best we can. Let’s put humanitarian aid in areas that protect the innocent. I’m all for that.”
At least 1,400 people were killed on 7 October, when Hamas fighters attacked Israeli targets. More than 200 hostages were taken. The Gaza health ministry says nearly 9,000 people have since been killed in Israeli strikes.
Graham appeared on CNN on Tuesday night, in the aftermath of airstrikes on a Gaza refugee camp which killed dozens. The Israeli military said it targeted a Hamas commander. Hamas said hostages, including foreign passport holders, were killed.
The CNN host, Abby Phillip, asked Graham: “In 2023 … is it acceptable to drop bombs on a densely populated civilian area where there are refugees, where people are living, where there are children?”
Recounting atrocities reportedly carried out by Hamas, Graham said its destruction was “non-negotiable”. He also said he “hate[d] the loss of innocent lives”, and claimed Israel was trying to limit civilian casualties as Hamas tried to increase them.
“The day after Hamas is destroyed,” Graham said, “I hope we have a better life for the Palestinian people. But I’m not blaming Israel. I’m blaming Hamas. I’m not blaming Israel at all.”
Graham has long been one of the most extreme voices on the Israel-Hamas conflict in American politics. He told Fox News previously that “Gaza is going to look like Tokyo and Berlin at the end of world war two when this is over. And if it doesn’t look that way, Israel made a mistake.”
He also called for the US to attack Iran if that country’s allied militia in Lebanon – Hezbollah – were to attack Israel.