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‘Finish them’: Nikki Haley’s message on Israeli artillery shell condemned amid Rafah assault

Amnesty International is among those criticizing former Republican former presidential contender Nikki Haley, the former. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, after she wrote "Finish Them!" on an Israeli artillery shell during a recent visit to Israel.

Former presidential candidate accused of publicity stunt at Israel-Lebanon border

A woman wearing a flak jacket squats in front of rows of artillery and writes a message on one of the weapons.

Amnesty International is among those criticizing Nikki Haley, a former Republican presidential contender and one-time U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, after she wrote "Finish Them!" on an Israeli artillery shell during a recent visit to Israel amid the ongoing assault on Gaza that has left tens of thousands dead in the past eight months.

An image of Haley crouched in front of pallets of shells, writing with a marker on one, was shared on social media Tuesday by Danny Danon, an Israeli politician and former ambassador to the UN who accompanied Haley during her visit this past weekend to Israel's border with Lebanon.

A second image he shared showed Haley's signed message: "Finish them — America Israel, Always."

The Israeli military and the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah have been engaged in cross-border hostilities since the aftermath of the Hamas-led militant attacks on Oct. 7 and the start of Israel's war in Gaza.

Finish them!<br><br>זה מה שכתבה היום חברתי, השגרירה לשעבר, ניקי היילי על פגז במהלך ביקור במוצב של תותחנים בגבול הצפון. <br><br>הגיע הזמן לשינוי משוואה – תושבי צור וצידון יתפנו, תושבי הצפון יחזרו.<br><br>צה"ל יכול לנצח! <a href="https://t.co/qvLNCXPl7o">pic.twitter.com/qvLNCXPl7o</a>


"All eyes need to be on Lebanon," Haley said in an interview with Israeli media the same day. "Because what everybody is doing is talking about Gaza — and that's a real war, that's a real fight — but what you're seeing up north, Israel is having to fight off attacks from Lebanon every single day.

"The pressure needs to be put on Lebanon," she said, "and make sure that Lebanon knows that if Hezbollah gets away with anything, hurting anyone, that there should be a price to pay."

Haley highlighted that 60,000 Israelis have been unable to return to their homes in northern Israel amid the exchanges of rocket fire over the border that have also claimed 24 lives in Israel, including 10 civilians and 14 soldiers.

Nearly 94,000 people have been displaced from their homes in southern Lebanon, according to the most recent update from the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), while at least 83 Lebanese civilians have been killed since October, along with nearly 300 Hezbollah fighters.

But Haley's photo-op and her controversial message followed a global outcry over an Israeli airstrike on Sunday that killed at least 45 people when a blaze ignited in a tent camp in a western district of the southern Gaza city of Rafah, a former haven for hundreds of thousands of displaced Palestinians until the Israel Defence Forces began its offensive there more than three weeks ago.

The World Court last week ordered Israel to immediately halt its military assault on Rafah, in a landmark emergency ruling in South Africa's case accusing Israel of genocide. Israel denies genocide allegations.

Haley's trip to Israel also included stops in areas attacked by Hamas-led militants on Oct. 7, including the site of the Nova music festival and the community of Kibbutz Nir Oz.

During the visit to the kibbutz on Monday, Haley defended Israel's invasion of Rafah and the war in Gaza, making similar remarks about that the Israeli military needs to "finish" Hamas.

"And what they are having to do now is surgical, to go in there and make sure they eliminate Hamas. You'll remember when this happened, I said finish them. They need to finish Hamas. Don't stop until they finish."

WATCH | Nikki Haley visits community attacked on Oct. 7:

'They need to finish Hamas,' Nikki Haley says during Israel visit

11 hours ago

Duration 0:34

Nikki Haley, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and one-time Republican presidential candidate, visited Kibbutz Nir Oz — which was among the places in Israel that Hamas attacked on Oct. 7 — and spoke to a woman whose parents were taken hostage. 'I will always push America to do what I think is the right thing, which is you stand by your friends,' Haley said on May 27.

Human rights groups were quick to criticize Haley.

"Conflict is no place for stunts. Conflict has rules. Civilians must be protected," Amnesty International said in a statement on Wednesday reacting to Haley's action.

"Why not just sign 'I favour Israeli war crimes,'" Kenneth Roth, a former Human Rights Watch executive director, said Tuesday night of Haley in a post on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.

Later on Wednesday, Haley posted on X: "Israel must do whatever is necessary to protect her people from evil," adding that Israel was fighting "enemies" of the United States.

Reuters could not reach Haley for comment on Wednesday.

Haley has been a longstanding supporter of Israel, whose war in Gaza has come under mounting international criticism, divided U.S. lawmakers over the Biden administration's support, and prompted protests at campuses across the United States and Canada.

According to Israeli tallies, the militants killed around 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and seized more than 250 hostages in the attacks.

Israel has also reported that 132 hostages remain in Gaza, but at least 38 of them have been declared dead. At least three hostages were killed by IDF fire in what the military called a case of mistaken identity.

The Ministry of Health in Gaza puts the death toll from the Israeli airstrikes and military operations at over 36,000.

Among the victims identified as of the end of last month, approximately 5,000 were women and 7,800 were children.

There is also widespread hunger in the narrow coastal enclave and nearly its entire 2.3 million population has been displaced.

Credit belongs to : www.cbc.ca

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