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GOP senator says Israel has to ‘go into Rafah to destroy Hamas’

GOP Sen. Rick Scott (Fla.) on Sunday argued it is imperative that Israel goes into Rafah to “destroy” the Palestinian militant group Hamas, despite warnings from the Biden administration against the move.

“Number one, [Israel] needs American support; they have to go into Rafah to destroy Hamas,” Scott said during an interview on “Fox News Sunday.”

The Florida Republican is coming off the heels of a trip to Israel, where he met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other government officials.

President Biden and other administration officials have repeatedly expressed concerns about Israel’s plans for Rafah, a city in Gaza that shares a border with Egypt. Millions of people seeking refuge are being housed in the region after being evacuated from other parts of the enclave since the start of the war in early October.

Israeli leaders have asserted they plan to move forward with an invasion of the southern Gaza city. Earlier this month, Netanyahu said there is no “alternative” to the invasion, which he argued is necessary to wipe out Hamas.

“[Israel] needs American support, but they’re going to go into Rafah to get rid of Hamas whether the U.S. supports them or not,” Scott said.

The war between Israel and Hamas has raged on for more than five months since the militant group’s surprise assault on Israel that left 1,200 people dead. About 240 others were taken hostage in Hamas’s surprise assault, about 100 of which were returned during a weeklong cease-fire late last year.

Israel has embarked on a military campaign to destroy Hamas, a U.S.-designated terrorist organization that has ruled the Gaza Strip since 2007. The bombardment of Gaza has killed more than 32,700 people since early October, The Associated Press reported.

The rising death toll and wide-scale damage to Gaza has prompted growing concerns from some lawmakers, especially Democrats, about Israel’s wartime action and plans.

Scott on Sunday argued Democrats and the Biden administration need to ramp up support for Israel.

“I think the Biden administration, Democrats need to change their tune. They vote against Israel aid,” Scott said. “I mean, this is disgusting … what the Biden administration is doing. Support Israel, they’ve got to kill Hamas, they’ll never get their country back.”

The Hill reached out to the White House for comment.

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