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ICYMI: Rubio Joins ABC News Live
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) joined ABC News LIVE to discuss the Iranian-backed Hamas terrorist attacks on Israel. See below for highlights and watch the full interview on YouTube.
On what the U.S. should do in regards to Israel:
“Our thoughts, our prayers, our heartache is with these families that are having to see these images online in real-time. I just can’t imagine what that must feel like.
“I think that the most important role the U.S. has to have right now is support, direct and moral and diplomatic and international support on behalf of Israel to make abundantly clear to their enemies that we’re going to stand with Israel, and we’re going to provide them whatever they need to win.
“The good news is that unlike some of the challenges we’re seeing with Ukraine and so forth, the U.S.-Israeli defense arrangement is codified. We actually passed a bill, my bill back in December 2020, that gives the administration authority from now through 2028 to spend a minimum of over $3.3 billion a year in assistance. They already have the authority to do a lot. The Israelis are also very capable. They’re not asking and never have asked and never will ask us to send American soldiers. What they basically will need is resupply. Some of that’s already been pre-positioned.
“The second most important thing is trying to prevent this from escalating into a broader conflict. That’s where the messaging that’s going on right now through Qatar, through Egypt, through all these other nations to Iran is so important. The message needs to be, if the U.S. is attacked, whether it’s U.S. service members or facilities in the region, whether it’s Iran directly or through their proxies, we’re going to hold Iran responsible. We’re going to consider it an attack by the Iranian state, and we will respond in kind.
“That is really critical here, because what you don’t want to see is this devolve into a second front from Lebanon or from the West Bank, but primarily from Lebanon because that injects a level of danger here that goes even higher.”
On how to react to Hamas threat of executing hostages:
“There’s no good options here, but there’s only one that actually achieves the purpose that Israel needs. You cannot coexist, you cannot live near this level of depravity, this level of evil.
“These terrorists deliberately targeted teenage girls, children, women, and the elderly. They deliberately targeted them, not just for murder and rape and all these other horrific acts, but then brought their bodies back and dumped them in the streets of Gaza so that the crowds could defile their lifeless bodies. This is a level of depravity you simply can’t coexist with. If these guys are not eliminated, they will do this again at an even higher level.
“And unfortunately, in that neighborhood, it sends a message to others. ‘If they got away with this, there are things we can get away with.’ It will encourage future attacks with much more horrifying impact. Hezbollah’s military capabilities are substantially greater than what Hamas has.
“What’s going to have to happen here truly is horrifying. We have to prepare ourselves for that. But there literally is no other option at this point, especially since Hamas uses civilians, children, and now hostages as human shields.”
On criticism of the role the U.S. played in exasperating the problem:
“The assumption is they have Americans. We don’t know. [We] are working hard to make that confirmation. We know Americans are among the dead. That heightens an already high level of interest in all of this. But at the end of the day, there were a bunch of other foreign nationals [killed]. Those nations need to step up and be involved in speaking out against this as well.
“[The terrorists attacked] a rave concert, villages and settlements, and things of this nature. We know they didn’t attack IDF outposts per se. They didn’t go head to head with the defense forces. They deliberately targeted civilians to inflict psychological damage and fear on the population, perhaps under the theory that Israel was going to curl up into the fetal position and retreat or give in. I think what they’re going to be faced with now is a disproportionate response.
“I don’t say this lightly. I’m not trying to talk tough or bluster. I’m just saying I don’t know if Israel has any other option at this point, but to completely eliminate Hamas as a viable entity in Gaza. That is going to come at a tremendous, horrifying cost and price on all sides of this, including to Israel. They’ve acknowledged this, and there’s some very difficult and painful days ahead, not just for those involved, but for those of us watching, because no one wants to see this. But this is the situation we find ourselves in. It’s a tragic one, but the price of not doing anything and not eradicating these monsters is far higher.”
On whether antisemitism can be defeated:
“The ideology is the destruction of the Jewish state. Can we eradicate an evil, ancient poison like antisemitism? No. It’s existed forever. It continues to exist. But we have to try to defeat it. We have to try to diminish it.
“There’s a difference between people that hate Jews or hate Israel and people who have those feelings and have weapons and have guns and have missiles and have guided munitions and have drones and have paragliding killers that come in and target civilians. That’s what we’re talking about here. You may not be able to defeat hate, unfortunately, because hate is part of the human condition. But what you want to prevent is that hate becoming armed and capable of carrying out action.
“This is a terrible thing. There is human tragedy all the way around. But it is the reality of the world as it is, and it needs to be confronted, or it will only spread and grow, not just more capable, but more daring.”
On the Coons-Rubio bill that pre-authorized aid to Israel:
“Back in 2020, Chris Coons, a Democratic senator, and I passed a bill that pre-authorizes aid to Israel. Those authorities are in place through 2028. It sets a floor of $3.3 billion a year. Congress can go higher and appropriate an even higher number, but they already have transfer authority, loan-guaranteeing authority. I don’t think they’re going to face some of the same challenges that we have with Ukraine. Now, there may come a point where we may need to do more than $3.3 billion in transfers, or just to replenish our own stocks. But we have ourselves a little bit of time, because they have these existing authorities, unlike what we faced in Ukraine.
“That’s why I’m happy that we were able to pass my bill back in December 2020 and put that in place. It, in essence, codified the 10-year agreement that President Obama signed with Israel in the last months of his presidency back in 2016. We put it in statute precisely because we feared that there would be this kind of multifaceted attack on Israel, and that Congress would not be able to move fast enough to get the aid there. I think that’s been acknowledged by the administration. They have a lot of authorities already. We may need to do more as this plays out.
“Again, Israel is not asking us to fight on their behalf, but they may need resupply at some point. Some of that’s already been pre-positioned as a result of this bill and that memorandum. That’s the good news in all of this. But we may need to do more down the road, and I think that support will be there.”
On why the Hamas attacks were unsuspected by Israel:
“There’s no mystery that Hamas had the intent and the growing capability to do something like this. What I think the Israelis themselves have admitted is, they didn’t know it was going to happen now. But this is a regular ongoing threat both from Hezbollah and from Hamas that Israel knows that it has been facing. They’ve acknowledged that they were caught by surprise and were not postured. After the Yom Kippur War, they conducted an inquiry for years to see how it was that they were caught off guard. I know they will do that again now. But right now they’re in the middle of a war, and they need to win that war before they can go back and acknowledge that.
“Obviously, we’ll have to look at our own systems and see whether we missed something, or whether we’re deficient in some place, or whether our analysis was wrong. I think that’s a very valid inquiry, because there are still ongoing threats that we want to know about ahead of time. Intelligence is never going to be perfect, and sometimes you go back and you see indicators that maybe the analysts didn’t put together all the pieces of the puzzle. But right now, I think the focus in Israel rightfully is on winning this war, because they need to win it, and then figuring out what went wrong after the fact. To some extent, [the U.S.] has to do the same.”
On the goal of the terrorist attacks:
“There’s no excuse for murdering civilians, going in and deliberately targeting teenage girls out in the desert to rape them and murder them. There’s no excuse for that. Hamas is not attacking because they want an embassy. Hamas is not attacking because they want to be part of the Abraham Accords. Hamas is attacking because their organizing principle, the reason why they exist, their stated purpose for existing is, they want to destroy the Jewish state.
“They do not want Israel to exist as a Jewish state. They want it to be a Muslim country populated by people like them. That’s their stated goal. That’s Iran’s stated goal. These attacks are designed, not to militarily defeat Israel, but to destroy its economy, drive people out of there, destroy its relationships internationally, and cause Israel to collapse from within. That is their stated goal. That is the reason why they’re attacking.
“This is not over land. This is not because they want Gaza to have economic opportunity. It’s because they want to destroy the Jewish state. That’s not me saying it. That’s their stated mission. That’s why they exist. That’s always been why they’ve existed, and that’s why these attacks are happening.”