US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley flies over Israel.
(photo credit: IDF SPOKESMAN’S UNIT)
US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley spent Thursday, her second day in Israel, touring the country by helicopter from north to south, accompanied by IDF brass and her Israeli colleague Danny Danon, who briefed her on the state’s vast security challenges.
Haley began the day by visiting Bethlehem and an UNRWA school in the Aida refugee camp.
She posted a photograph of herself with Palestinian women stating that she had the “chance to talk with girls and women about their lives, their hopes and their dreams.”
Accompanied by Danon and Deputy Chief of Staff Maj.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi, she then flew by helicopter to the border
with the Gaza Strip.
While they were in the air, Danon told Haley that “Hamas pours its resources into arms and digging murderous terror tunnels instead of investing in a better future for the residents of Gaza. They educate their youth to hate Israel instead of providing them with the opportunity to grow and flourish.”
UN Ambassador Haley visits Kerem Shalom crossing near Gaza border region June 8, 2017. Credit: Ziv Sokolov/US Embassy Tel Aviv
Noting that Haley met the family of slain soldier Hadar Goldin at the UN in February, Danon said that “Hamas is displaying appalling cruelty by holding the bodies of Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul hostage in Gaza. We greatly appreciate America’s assistance with our efforts to ensure that they are returned home for a proper burial.”
She toured the Kerem Shalom crossing, which is the sole passageway between Israel and Gaza for commercial goods, and was joined there by the UN’s Mideast envoy Nikolay Mladenov. Haley, along with Mladenov, inspected the opening of a concrete attack tunnel uncovered by the IDF.
Her visit was closed to the media, but the US Embassy posted a short video of the trip, including shots of Haley standing in the tunnel Hamas had dug from Gaza into Israel.
In Kibbutz Nahal Oz, she spoke with residents about their experience of living under fire from Gaza, asking mothers there how it is to live in the shadows of the missiles. In 2014, Daniel Tregerman, four, was killed by mortar fire there. One boy told her, “The children of Nahal Oz thank you. Have a nice day in Israel.”
The American diplomat then flew north, first for security briefings along the Lebanese border. She visited Kibbutz Misgav Am, received a security briefing, met with UNIFIL head Maj.-Gen. Michael Beary, and spoke to female IDF soldiers responsible for monitoring developments directly across the border.
UN Ambasador Nikki Haley visits Kibbutz Misgav Am located on Israel’s northern border with Lebanon on June 8, 2017 Credit: Gil Shimon/US Embassy Tel Aviv
From there she went to the Golan Heights, where she was shown an IDF field hospital treating wounded from the Syrian civil war.
Danon said that the jam-packed day was effective in showing her the challenges posed by Hamas and Hezbollah.
Haley is scheduled on Friday, her last full day in the country, to visit Yad Vashem, meet Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, and tour Tel Aviv.Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.