US President Joe Biden condemned Donald Trump on Thursday for describing Hezbollah as “very smart” even as the Lebanese militant group exchanges fire with Israel following the Hamas attack on the US ally.
During a campaign speech in Florida, Trump also falsely accused the Biden administration of bankrolling the Hamas assault as a result of a prisoner exchange deal with Iran, which has historically funded Hamas and Hezbollah.
Biden said in a post on X, formerly Twitter, that “our nation’s support for Israel is resolute and unwavering. And the right time to praise the terrorists who seek to destroy them is never.”
Trump had made his remarks to supporters in West Palm Beach as he was criticizing the White House.
“You know, Hezbollah is very smart. They’re all very smart,’” Trump said.
White House deputy press secretary Andrew Bates said Trump’s remarks were “dangerous and unhinged.”
Israel also reacted angrily, with Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi in a TV interview saying Trump could “obviously” not be trusted.
“It is shameful that such a person, a former president of the United States, aid propaganda and spreads comments that harm the spirit of IDF (army) fighters and the spirit of Israeli residents,” Karhi said.
“We don’t need to deal with him or with the nonsense he says.”
Hamas gunmen killed 1,200 people in Israel and took about 150 hostages in their surprise onslaught from Gaza Saturday. Israel has retaliated by raining air and artillery strikes on Hamas targets in Gaza for six days, claiming over 1,350 lives.
Israel’s defense has been complicated by clashes in the north with Hezbollah in recent days, including cross-border rockets and shelling.
Florida governor Ron DeSantis, who is running in a distant second place behind Trump in the race for the Republican 2024 presidential nomination, also took aim at his rival.
“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,” he posted on X.
The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.