‘Anyone Who Signs a Bomb Is a Sociopath’: Critics Slam Nikki Haley’s Israeli Missile Stunt

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Nikki Haley visits Kibbutz Nir Oz, Israel, on May 27, 2024. Credit - Kobi Wolf—Bloomberg/Getty Images

During a visit to Israel, former presidential candidate Nikki Haley left behind a controversial hand-written message. “Finish Them!” she wrote with a marker on an artillery shell on Tuesday, during her meeting with Israeli soldiers.

Haley’s words and photos were shared in a social media post by Danny Danon, an Israeli politician and former ambassador to the United Nations, who accompanied her during the visit. Danon was also photographed signing an artillery shell.

Photos of the signed shell, which also include the line “America [heart] Israel Always,” have been shared widely on social media.

“Finish them” is a line that Haley has often used when discussing Hamas, amid Israel’s war in Gaza, both in social media posts and in public speeches. The new images, however, have sparked significant backlash.

“Nikki Haley shows who she is,” said former Human Rights Watch executive director Kenneth Roth. “Anyone who signs a bomb is a sociopath,” said American actor John Cusack.

During her visit on Tuesday, Haley, the former South Carolina governor and U.N. ambassador who unsuccessfully mounted a campaign to be the Republican nominee for President of the U.S., also went to the site of the Supernova music festival and Kibbutz Nir Oz in southern Israel where Hamas launched its surprise attack on Oct. 7.

“1 in 4 of their neighbors were murdered or taken hostage in Gaza,” she wrote in an Instagram post with photos of her at the Kibbutz. “No other country would accept this, Israel should not either.”

Haley suspended her presidential campaign in March and, despite forcefully opposing him during her bid, last week announced that she would vote for Trump in November. Trump, meanwhile, said that if he is re-elected Haley would likely have a role in his team.

Haley’s visit comes amid Israel’s latest deadly military operation in Rafah, where many Palestinian civilians have taken refuge amid the war in Gaza. At least 45 people were killed earlier this week after Israeli missiles aimed at Hamas militants ended up setting fire to an encampment where civilians were sheltering. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the civilian deaths as a “tragic mistake”—though dozens more Palestinians have been killed by Israeli airstrikes since then.

The U.S., Israel’s ally and largest weapons supplier, has come under increasing pressure to curb Israel’s military campaign in Gaza, which has killed 36,000 Palestinians according to the Gaza health ministry. President Joe Biden threatened earlier this month to withhold some weapons shipments from Israel if Netanyahu ordered a major invasion of Rafah—a move Biden has not yet followed through with but which was nonetheless lambasted by Haley on Tuesday.

“America needs to do whatever Israel needs and stop telling them how to fight this war,” she said. “You are either a friend or not a friend.”

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