Republican presidential candidate Chris Christie, visiting Israel, said the calls for a cease-fire in the country's war with militant group Hamas don't "make any sense."
"We can't ask Israel to stand down if they believe there is still a legitimate violent threat against them and their people," Christie told reporters during his weekend visit to Israel. "I think there's no question that there is, and so they must continue to fight until they have degraded that capability to a point where they can save their people, come back and live here safely and securely. Until that comes, I don't think calls for a cease-fire make any sense."
Christie is the first Republican presidential candidate to visit amid the country's conflict with Hamas, which is recognized by the U.S. and several other countries as a terrorist organization.
The Associated Press reported Christie toured Kfar Azza, a kibbutz in southern Israel that was attacked in Hamas's Oct. 7 assault on Israel that killed over 1,200 people, including hundreds of civilians.
"If there was a cease-fire, it was Hamas who violated the cease-fire, not Israel. If Hamas had not entered this neighborhood on Oct. 7 and caused the carnage that they did, there would be peace today, both here and in Gaza, so we must remember who's really responsible for this," Christie said.
Christie, the former governor of New Jersey, has repeatedly voiced his support for Israel, along with his GOP rivals in the presidential primary race. He told the AP he believed those calling for a cease-fire did not represent the vast majority of Americans.
“I don’t think it’s the role of the United States to instruct the state of Israel on how to provide safety and security for its people,” he said. “I think we can give advice, as friends give advice in private. But publicly, my view is that we need to stand with Israel.”
Israeli forces have continued to bombard Hamas-ruled Gaza with air strikes in response to the Oct. 7 attack, while more recently launching ground attacks around Gaza City in the northern part of the enclave.
More than 11,070 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza since the war broke out last month, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry.
The attacks, coupled with shortage of food, water, medicine and fuel, have prompted calls from multiple humanitarian agencies and leaders calling for cease-fire to allow civilians to get out of the violence or aid to be delivered to the enclave.
The White House has offered the U.S.'s "unwavering support" to Israel, while facing growing pressure to advocate for at least a temporary cease-fire for the sake of civilians.
Biden and the White House have voiced their support in the past week for a humanitarian pause that would include a temporary, “localized” break in fighting that would permit aid to get into Gaza or civilians to get out.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has so far rejected these calls for a cease-fire, telling reporters Israel's campaign to destroy Hamas militants will continue with "full force," the Associated Press reported.