I just came back from Israel and saw these two important things

April 11, 2024

Fox News
Sen. Rick Scott
April 11, 2024

Israel changed on October 7, 2023, when Iran-backed Hamas terrorists attacked and killed thousands of innocent people. Everywhere you look in Israel the scars of terror are present, but through the devastation, I saw an unbreakable resolve in the Israeli people and their government. I made clear to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when I met with him in Jerusalem that I will always stand with Israel. Now, President Biden must show that his administration and Democrats in Washington will do the same, stop cowering to the radical left of their party in a disgusting and dangerous attempt to get votes from Hamas-sympathizers, and force Qatar to do its job in securing the immediate release of hostages and ending its coddling of Hamas leadership.

While in Israel, I saw two important things very clearly. First, I saw the absolute evil of Israel’s enemies and their brutality. I saw where Jewish people were killed just for being Jewish, where women were raped and murdered and babies butchered. I talked with people who experienced the attack firsthand and thankfully survived, and they told me what happened to them, their families and friends.

I saw parents setting up memorials at the Nova Music Festival site for their children who have been taken hostage or murdered. I stood in a destroyed home and listened to the last words of a young Israeli woman via audio recording as she talked to her father before Hamas gunned her down. I met with the families of American hostages whose devastation and grief is overwhelming. And I saw firsthand what Israel faces from Iran and its proxies and what they would do to us, too, if they can.  

Second, in meetings with the Prime Minister Netanyahu and Israeli leaders, I saw the incredible and unprecedented work Israel is doing to preserve civilian life and get aid into Gaza.

We are all heartbroken by the accidental Israeli strike on a humanitarian aid convoy that killed seven aid workers, including an American citizen. Israel did the right thing and immediately took responsibility, apologized, and launched an investigation, as it always does. Any civilian death is tragic and should be avoided at all costs – and the death of any American should demand the accountability and apology that Israel has promised and delivered. Israel is doing more to prevent civilian deaths than any warfighting nation has been expected to do in history and taking responsibility when tragic incidents happen.

There will be accountability for this tragedy, and we pray that something like this never happens again, but what President Biden and Democrats cannot do is allow it to blind them to the fact that Hamas is still holding Americans hostage, or allow them to ignore the undeniable fact that the United States and Israel have a common security interest in destroying Hamas and getting these hostages back home today. Hamas must be destroyed and that means going in Rafah and any other place Hamas is hiding behind innocent civilians.

I truly believe that if Netanyahu had taken Rafah when he wanted and destroyed Hamas, the war would be nearly over. But at every step, the U.S. has forced Israel to go slow and all Biden has done with that time is use it to build his attacks on and betrayal of Israel, and forced the hostages to languish in captivity even longer.

The five Americans that are being held hostage by Hamas have been held in captivity for more than half a year. It is unacceptable that President Biden, senior members of his administration and Democrats in Washington continue to attack Israel, call for the ousting of its democratically-elected government, and allow the abandonment of our ally at the United Nations and on the world stage. And it is disgusting that while they launch these attacks on our ally, Democrats say little or nothing about the fact that American citizens are being held hostage by a brutal, murderous terrorist organization that we know is committing horrific sexual abuse against these innocent people.

But speaking every single day about the hostages still being held by Hamas, as I have done since this attack happened, is not enough. While his reported letter to Qatari emir, Sheikh Tamin bin Hamad Al Thani is a start, Biden must do more to force Qatar do its job in securing the immediate and safe release of all hostages.

Qatar has had months to secure the release of hostages from Hamas. How has this not yet been accomplished? Why is Qatar allowing the leaders of Hamas to live in luxury and under protection in Doha while American citizens remain tortured in the captivity of terrorists? That must end now and we need to see concrete evidence today that Qatar is doing its job as a U.S. ally to get our hostages and all hostages being held by Hamas out. Qatar enjoys many of the benefits of being an American ally, including hosting a U.S. military base. If the Qataris won’t do their part to get our hostages out, everything should be on the table in terms of consequences for its inaction.

My latest trip to Israel is my sixth visit since I was elected as governor of Florida in 2010 and my third as Florida’s U.S. Senator. The State of Florida and Israel have always had a strong relationship, and each time I visit I am reminded of that bond between our people and the importance of supporting the Jewish state. I will never walk away from Israel and am more committed than ever to forcing the Biden administration to stand by our great ally as it fights for its existence against the unimaginable barbarism of Iran-backed terror.

Republican Rick Scott represents Florida in the United States Senate. He is a former Florida governor.