Sen. Ted Cruz Shares Firsthand Observations of Israel-Hamas Situation

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Sen. Ted Cruz joins “The Daily Signal Podcast” to discuss his recent trip to Israel to observe the fighting that’s been occurring in the region between Israel and Hamas, the Palestinian militant group. We discuss how Hamas has a headquarters in the basement of a hospital, effectively using innocent people as human shields.

“It’s their own terrorists killing their own people, because they wanted to kill Israeli civilians, but they just weren’t very good at it, and shot their own people instead,” Cruz, R-Texas, told The Daily Signal.

“The press utterly ignores that,” Cruz said. “The other civilians that are injured are predominantly the result of a decision that Hamas made to use Palestinians as human shields. So, they deliberately fire their weapons, fire their rockets from heavily populated civilian areas into heavily populated civilian areas.

“It’s actually a double war crime. Shooting in a civilian area is a war crime, but shooting from civilian areas is also a war crime,” the Texas Republican lawmaker said.

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“The Hamas headquarters was in the basement of a hospital in Gaza,” Cruz said, adding:

This is a Palestinian hospital. And here’s the calculation Hamas is making: It’s a win-win. Either the [Israeli Defense Forces] will refrain from attacking their headquarters, in which case, that’s great. That’s what they want. Or in the alternative, if the IDF does attack the headquarters, it will kill a significant number of Palestinians, and they’re literally using Palestinian women and newborn babies.

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Rachel del Guidice: I’m joined today on “The Daily Signal Podcast” by Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas. Sen. Cruz, thank you for being back on “The Daily Signal Podcast.”

Sen. Ted Cruz: Rachel, it’s great to be with you.

Del Guidice: Thanks for being with us. So, New York is the first state to have a government-issued vaccine passport. Can you tell us what your perspective of this is?

Cruz: Well, I think it’s a mistake, having a government-issued vaccine passport. I think a mandate for a vaccine passport is the wrong way to go. My views on vaccines are simple. I believe in vaccines. I’ve personally been vaccinated for COVID. My wife has, my parents have, my wife’s parents have.

But I also think it’s a question of individual choice. It ought to be up to each person to make a determination based on your life, your health conditions, what you think makes sense, and the danger of a government mandate or even government-issued vaccine passport is, you end up having a potential for real discrimination in everyday life, for people who for whatever reasons make a decision not to get the vaccine, facing the potential of not being allowed to use public accommodations, not being allowed to get on an airplane, not being allowed to travel, or even potentially being fired from their jobs.

We’re seeing reports across the country of people facing termination because they didn’t get vaccinated. I introduced last week legislation in the Senate that would prohibit that, that would protect your medical privacy and protect your right to make a choice about whether or not to get a vaccine.

Del Guidice: I was actually going to ask you about the legislation next. Can you tell us a little bit more about the bill, what’s in it, and how you want it to be implemented?

Cruz: Well, the way the bill is structured is that it works within existing civil rights laws. And so, right now, existing civil rights laws prevent discrimination based on race or sex or other characteristics. And what this does is likewise prevents discrimination, based on your choice of whether or not to get a vaccine, and a vaccine that admittedly was developed incredibly rapidly in experimental circumstances.

I’m grateful that it was. It’s helped the economy open up. It’s helped protect us and keep us safe, but there are risks that are entailed with that as well. And so, it builds on the existing situation. It builds on the Americans With Disabilities Act, landmark civil rights legislation that protects people that have disabilities from being discriminated against, and what it mandates is a reasonable accommodation from the employer.

It doesn’t mean you can never have circumstances where job requirements might entail wanting someone to be vaccinated, just like the Americans With Disabilities Act, if someone is blind, it doesn’t mandate that they be the pilot for an airplane.

There are some jobs for which that’s not the right mix, but there are a whole lot other jobs that they can do even with a disability, even with a characteristic. And in this instance, likewise, it requires using the existing legal framework, reasonable accommodations.

Del Guidice: Well, there are lawmakers both in the House and the Senate, from the Democrat side, that want these vaccine passports, that are talking about them. What would your message be to your colleagues? Because you have your concerns about this.

Cruz: It’s an open question whether we’re going to see any Democrats willing to support protections of civil rights, protections of health privacy, protections ultimately of the right to choose the health care that you get. On the plus side, we’ve seen the Biden administration say that they’re not going to be mandating vaccine passports. That’s positive.

The fact that they feel the need to articulate that out loud is good to see. On the other side, particularly today’s Democratic Party in Congress, they are collectivists. They are statists, and they believe in government power. And so I’m certainly going to try to get other senators, Democratic senators to support this legislation.

But I expect that it’s going to be an uphill path, that right now, I’m not hearing from Democrats in Congress a concern about protecting privacy, a concern about protecting individual choice. I’m instead hearing a much greater comfort with just the government forcing you to do what they want you to do.

Del Guidice: Wow. Well, you just returned from a trip to Israel, and you went there to observe all the unrest that’s been happening there between Israel and Hamas. Can you tell us a little bit about the trip?

Cruz: Well, sure. So, I was there three days. I flew [Memorial Day] weekend, got back [June 2], took the red-eye flying back all night to come here to be in Austin [in Texas]. It was very good to be there. It was the fifth time I’d been to Israel since I was elected to the Senate. And I went on this trip in particular because of the military conflict they just had, the rocket attacks from Hamas.

We saw over 4,000 rockets fired from Hamas terrorists into Israel. And I wanted to go to really express America’s strong and unyielding support for the state of Israel. I also wanted to go in particular because the current Democratic administration, the Biden administration, I think, is in very real ways responsible for this Hamas rocket attack.

Pause for a second and just step back. Nine months ago, we were in a very different world.

We had peace flowering in the Middle East. We had the Abraham Accords, historic peace agreements signed between Israel and multiple Arab nations. First peace agreements in the Middle East in decades. I was there at the White House the day the Abraham Accords were signed. Fast-forward nine months later, and we’ve got war in the Middle East.

And what changed? And what changed was several things. All of which the Biden administration did. Historically, Democrats and too many Republicans believe the right approach to the Middle East was deliberate and strategic ambiguity, was blurring the lines of, sometimes we support Israel; sometimes we support the Palestinians. We like both. We don’t know. I think that is an absolutely failed approach.

I think it has been demonstrated over and over again. It doesn’t produce peace. It produces endless conflict and warfare. And what I had been urging for the nine years I’ve been in the Senate is clarity, unmistakable clarity to say, “We stand with Israel, period, full stop, the end.” And that clarity produces peace. In the Trump administration, there were two decisions that set the foundation for the Abraham Accords.

No. 1, moving our embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. No. 2, pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal. Both decisions were hotly contested within the administration. In both instances, the State Department and Defense Department opposed making those decisions. And in both instances, I made the case directly and repeatedly to President [Donald] Trump in the Oval Office, and he agreed with me in both times and overruled his own State Department, his own Defense Department.

Those two decisions produced, I believe, the Abraham Accords. On the day of the signing of the Abraham Accords, I spoke with foreign ministers and ambassadors from UAE and Bahrain, both of whom said almost the exact same thing.

They both said a variant of, “We now understand that the United States stands unequivocally with Israel. We want to be friends with America. Therefore, we will be friends with Israel.” So what did Biden do? He came in, and he immediately returned to that deliberate ambiguity. He immediately began undermining Israel.

Within the first few weeks of his administration, he sent over $100 million to the Palestinian Authority, in violation of the Taylor Force Act that prohibits funding organizations that fund terrorists. The Palestinian Authority is in bed with Hamas, and paying terrorists, the families of terrorists for murdering Americans and Israelis.

The Biden administration set out their top foreign policy objective is reentering the Iran nuclear deal, and sending billions of dollars to the Ayatollah Khamenei. That combination emboldened Hamas, because they knew when they fired rockets that the Biden administration and the press would side with them, and blame Israel for defending itself. And so, I wanted to go and express to [Israeli] Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu, to the leadership of the government, to the Israeli people, that even if the current administration in Washington is not supporting you the way they should, that the American people stand with you.

Del Guidice: Sen. Cruz, can you talk a little bit more about the personal story behind all of this going on? You mentioned on Twitter that there was a woman who was killed, who was a caregiver of an elderly woman. She was trying to rescue her. Can you paint the picture of the personal situation of what’s happening there right now?

Cruz: Sure. So, the first day I was there in Israel, I went down to the Gaza border, and I met with soldiers of the [Israeli Defense Forces]. I met with the American generals down there, with our military leadership, working with the Israelis. I met with numerous Israelis. We visited one home in particular that had been struck by a Hamas rocket.

And it was a home not too far from Gaza, where there was an elderly woman living there, and she had a caretaker. And the home that we saw, the rocket came in through the roof and exploded the roof, and largely demolished the house. And so, when we saw it, there was wreckage everywhere. As I understand it, the woman, she escaped but her caregiver did not. Her caregiver was killed with the rocket strike, and the way the rocket strikes happen, and I talked with numerous Israelis, that there’ll be a siren that goes off, a warning that the rocket is coming in.

They also have it on your cellphones. It’s actually neat technology, where it’s connected to GPS, so your phone will go off and let you know that a rocket is incoming. But you typically have a matter of seconds to get out. These rockets are not terribly high-tech, but they’re not traveling that far. Now the Israelis have developed missile defense technology, a system in particular called the Iron Dome, which is an incredible system and America’s helped them develop that.

We’ve funded a lot of it. I went and visited one of the Iron Dome batteries, where the launchers have 20 rockets built in the launchers, and the launchers, each rocket will go up and intercept an incoming Hamas rocket. And the Iron Dome interceptors have over a 90% intercept rate, so they’re very effective. They’ve saved thousands of lives. Thousands of Israeli lives, thousands of Palestinian lives. But a 90% intercept rate means there’s about 10% that doesn’t get intercepted.

Tragically, this woman’s home was one of those 10% that the Iron Dome didn’t intercept that rocket, and it killed her caregiver.

Del Guidice: Speaking of Israel, right now, Sen. Bernie Sanders, as well as Reps. [Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez] and Rashida Tlaib, they’re talking about a resolution to stop U.S. arms sales to Israel. And given everything that’s been happening recently, what’s your perspective of this?

Cruz: I think one of the most dangerous thing we’ve seen in today’s Democratic Party is the rise of the extreme left. And on this issue, the rise of the angry anti-Israel left. Look, there have always been antisemitic views, but they used to be relegated to the fringes. Today, these are leading Democratic members of Congress who are virulently antisemitic, members of the so-called “Squad” in the House of Representatives who’ve stood up and accused Israel of committing acts of terrorism for defending themselves against terrorists themselves.

And the problem is, this has gone mainstream. So, you’re right. In the House, [Ocasio-Cortez]; in the Senate, Bernie Sanders are introducing resolutions to block arms sales to Israel. And ironically, what they want to stop are precision munitions, which enable them to target the terrorists directly.

If you don’t have precision munitions, you just got to drop a bomb, which creates more civilian casualties. One of the things to understand, so a lot of the press coverage, and when it comes to the Middle East, the press, it was wildly biased.

A lot of the press coverage has focused on the differential of deaths between Israelis and Palestinians, and significantly more Palestinians died. There are numerous reasons for that. One of the reasons why the Israeli deaths were more limited is because of Iron Dome, is because many of those rockets that were fired were intercepted. Now, Hamas is deliberately targeting civilians in Israel. That’s part of the definition of terrorism, is deliberately trying to cause civilian deaths, civilian injuries for a political purpose.

Israel doesn’t do that. Israel doesn’t target citizens directly. So, Israel does defend itself against those terrorists. Why did more Palestinians die? Well, one significant percentage of those Palestinians who died, died from Hamas rockets. They’re not very good at this. They’re fairly low-tech. And so, a significant percentage of the rockets that Hamas fires from Gaza landed in Gaza and killed Palestinians.

So, it’s their own terrorists killing their own people, because they wanted to kill Israeli civilians, but they just weren’t very good at it, and shot their own people instead. The press utterly ignores that. The other civilians that are injured are predominantly the result of a decision that Hamas made to use Palestinians as human shields.

So, they deliberately fire their weapons, fire their rockets from heavily populated civilian areas into heavily populated civilian areas. It’s actually a double war crime. Shooting in a civilian area is a war crime, but shooting from civilian areas is also a war crime.

And what they’re doing, so, for example, the Hamas headquarters was in the basement of a hospital in Gaza. This is a Palestinian hospital. And here’s the calculation Hamas is making: It’s a win-win. Either the [Israeli Defense Forces] will refrain from attacking their headquarters, in which case, that’s great. That’s what they want. Or in the alternative, if the IDF does attack the headquarters, it will kill a significant number of Palestinians, and they’re literally using Palestinian women and newborn babies.

There was a maternity ward in the hospital, newborn babies as human shields, because they can count on the useful idiots in the media blaming Israel for doing that. And I will tell you, having meetings with the Israeli military, they take extraordinary steps to minimize civilian casualties.

They target with great precision the terrorists. They give warning, so if there’s a building that they know there’s a Hamas cell headquartered in, they’ll drop a bomb that is a dud, that just makes a big, loud clang on the roof, that is designed to tell the non-terrorist residents of the building, “Get out of the building.” And they’ll wait typically 30 minutes, 60 minutes before actually bombing the building.

They’ll call them on their phones. I don’t know of another military on earth that calls the target of a bombing raid to tell them, “Get out of the building.” But the Israelis do that, because the Palestinians are sticking innocent civilians … They put their rockets, Hamas puts their rockets, they put them in a kindergarten. They’ve used Palestinian kindergarten children to hide their rockets.

One of the things Prime Minister Netanyahu said that I thought was really powerful, he said, “They use their citizens to protect their rockets. We use our rockets to protect our citizens.” And there’s not a moral equivalency between the two.

Del Guidice: Well, thank you for sharing that. Moving to the U.S. and your state of Texas briefly before we end and wrap up here, what’s your perspective on the crisis at the border from when President [Joe] Biden entered the White House in January to right now, what’s your perspective on what’s happened in such a short amount of time?

Cruz: It is an absolute disaster. A number of weeks ago, I brought a group of 19 senators down to the border. And I’ve been to the border many, many times. It’s worse than I’ve ever seen it. It is a humanitarian crisis. It is a public health crisis. It is a national security crisis. We saw streams of people crossing illegally. We saw in the tent city, in Donna, Texas, this is a facility that’s built to hold 1,000 people, with COVID restrictions—its capacity is 250.

The day we visited, they had over 4,200 people in that facility. These were the Biden “cages.” We heard on and on for four years about “kids in cages, kids in cages.” You notice the media doesn’t care about kids in cages anymore? What they never told you is, [President] Barack Obama built the cages, and Joe Biden is building more cages. They’re bigger, and they’re more full. We saw cage after cage after cage of little kids. They weren’t six feet apart, as they should be during a pandemic. They weren’t three feet apart.

They weren’t even three inches apart. They’re lying side by side on the floor, no beds, no cots, no mattresses, touching. I mean, they’re packed in as tightly as you can pack them in, wrapped in emergency reflective blankets. The rate of COVID positivity in the Donna tent facility when we were there was over 10%. And the thing that is maddening is, this is entirely manmade.

Joe Biden caused this with three policy decisions he made. When he came into office, he halted construction of the border wall. He reinstated the failed policy of “catch and release,” and he ended the successful “remain in Mexico” policy.

That is producing this crisis. It’s getting worse and worse and worse. Biden wants to ignore it and hide from it. So does the media. And I think it is indefensible what’s happening.

Del Guidice: There’s a lot to do. Sen. Cruz, thank you for being with us on “The Daily Signal [Podcast].” It’s great having you.

Cruz: Thank you. It’s always a pleasure.

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