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11:41 am ET, December 3, 2023

GOP senator rejects defense secretary’s argument that more civilian casualties in Gaza could worsen insurgency

From CNN’s Avery Lotz

US Sen. Lindsey Graham and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

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US Senate. Lindsay Graham rejected Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s argument that more civilian casualties in Gaza could create more insurgents, creating “a tactical victory with a tactical victory.”

The Republican senator characterized Austin as “innocent,” saying he had “lost all hope.”

“Will a strategic defeat inflame the Palestinians? They’re already inflamed. They’re taught from the time they’re born to hate Jews and kill them,” Graham said on CNN — calling on Austin to “stop criticizing Israel in public.”

“Secretary Austin is telling Israel things it can’t do,” Graham said. “Secretary Austin, the reason why Palestinians are dying: Gaza is so oppressed, Hamas has tunnels under apartments, under schools, under hospitals.”

Graham added that he understood what retired General Stanley McChrystal called the “math of insurgency.” The idea is that civilian deaths in the war could be a catalyst for creating insurgents, but Gaza’s population has been “radicalized for decades,” he argued.

“Do you know what they teach in schools?” Graham questioned. “The idea that somehow we or Israel are radicalizing the people in Gaza is ludicrous.”

“If we had been attacked like this on 9/11, if someone had called us within two months for a ceasefire against al-Qaeda, we would have laughed them out of town, we would have kicked them out. city,” he said, criticizing Vice President Kamala Harris’ Saturday statement that “many innocent Palestinians have been killed”.

“Vice President Harris, tell Israel how to destroy Hamas in a way that doesn’t hurt innocent Palestinians, and I will,” he said. “No Republican believes this,” he added. “No Republican is telling Israel to change its military tactics.”

Aid to Israel: Meanwhile, he said he won’t vote for a bill to help Israel and Ukraine if the proposed legislation doesn’t include U.S. immigration restrictions that he and his GOP colleagues have advocated.

“I think Israel has votes apart from the pack,” he argued. “Republicans overwhelmingly support Israel — and so do most Democrats. Republicans are divided on Ukraine.

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