December 11, 2023

By Moshe Edri | Related Press

KFAR AZZA, Israel — Republican presidential hopeful Chris Christie on Sunday visited Israel, saying the U.S. should stand “shoulder to shoulder” with Israel in its struggle towards the Hamas militant group.

Christie toured a kibbutz that was ravaged within the Oct. 7 rampage by Hamas militants that triggered the struggle and was assembly Israeli leaders, wounded troopers and households of Israeli hostages throughout his one-day go to. The previous New Jersey governor is the primary candidate for the 2024 Republican nomination to go to Israel.

“I got here right here as a result of I needed to see this for myself,” Christie mentioned throughout a tour of Kfar Azza, certainly one of greater than 20 cities and villages attacked by Hamas militants on Oct. 7. Israel says over 1,200 folks have been killed and 239 others are being held hostage in Gaza.

Jets buzzed overhead as Christie toured the kibbutz alongside the speaker of Israel’s parliament, Amir Ohana.

Christie, donning a flak jacket and flanked by an entourage of Israeli troopers, made his means via properties with partitions riddled by bullet holes and couches stained with blood. Over a month because the assault, many Kfar Azza homes are burnt-out and destroyed — constructions left standing are scribbled with Arabic graffiti.

“To have the ability to stroll via a neighborhood like this and see what was finished to the folks, to nonetheless have the ability to stroll into certainly one of these properties and scent the dying nonetheless, a month later, is one thing that I feel the American folks must know.”

Christie, the 2024 race’s most vocal critic of former president, Donald J. Trump, has solid himself as the one Republican keen to straight take him on. Trump has not visited Israel through the present marketing campaign cycle, although President Joe Biden has.

The Republican candidates have all lined up behind Israel, even because the nation comes underneath rising worldwide strain to halt or cut back an offensive within the Gaza Strip during which greater than 11,000 Palestinians, two-thirds of them ladies and minors, have been killed, in line with the Well being Ministry in Hamas-run Gaza, which doesn’t differentiate between civilian and militant deaths. About 2,700 folks have been reported lacking and are regarded as trapped or lifeless underneath the rubble.

Christie praised the best way that Biden has dealt with relations with Israel throughout wartime. As widespread protests of Israel’s bombardment of Gaza in main cities like New York and Los Angeles appeal to 1000’s, the Biden administration has sought to extend humanitarian support into Gaza whereas backing the Israeli struggle effort by transferring US troops and protection techniques into the area. Biden has largely ducked calls to strain Israel right into a ceasefire.

Christie mentioned that he thought protesters calling for a ceasefire didn’t signify the overwhelming majority of Individuals.

“I don’t assume it’s the function of the US to instruct the state of Israel on the right way to present security and safety for its folks,” he mentioned. “I feel we may give recommendation, as buddies give recommendation in personal. However publicly, my view is that we have to stand with Israel.”

Throughout his go to, Christie watched a movie of grotesque footage pulled from the physique cameras of Hamas militants on Oct. 7 and compiled by the Israeli military. The army has screened the movie to worldwide press and a number of world leaders who’ve visited Israel because the begin of the struggle.