Nikki Haley writes ‘finish them’ on IDF shells during Israel visit

Nikki Haley signed a shell during her visit to Israel
Nikki Haley signing an Israeli Defence Force shell during her visit to Israel - Howard Beckett

Nikki Haley wrote “finish them!” on the side of a fresh Israeli artillery shell during a visit to Israel.

The failed presidential hopeful has been one of Israel’s fiercest supporters since war broke out with Hamas on Oct 7.

Despite other politicians from both sides denouncing the country’s aggressive offensive in Gaza, including democrat and fellow Israel supporter Chuck Schumer, Ms Haley has repeatedly rushed to Israel’s defence.

On Tuesday, she visited an artillery post on the country’s northern border and wrote on a shell: “Finish them! America [loves] Israel. Always. Nikki Haley.”

Photos of Ms Haley kneeling to sign the shell were shared on social media the same day by Danny Danon, a member of the Israeli parliament who had accompanied the South Carolina govenor on her visit.

‘You’re doing the right thing’

“I want Israelis to know you’re doing the right thing. Don’t let anybody make you feel wrong because Israel is not wrong in this,” Ms Haley said in a press conference on Monday.

Her comments are especially sensitive in light of Sunday’s airstrike in Gaza, which triggered a fire that killed 45 displaced Palestinians at a camp in Rafah.

Daniel Hagari , the Israeli Defence Forces spokesman, said it was still unclear what had caused the fire on Tuesday, but remained adamant it was not a direct result of the 17 kilogram munitions used, saying they were too small.

“We are looking into all possibilities including the option that weapons stored in a compound next to our target which we did not know of may have ignited as a result of the strike,” he said.

Israel said it was targeting two senior Hamas operatives in a compound when it launched the attack, but critics of Israel see the loss of civilian life as part of a pattern of using a sledgehammer to crack a nut.

A Palestinian child plays with the rubble after Israel bombs Palestinians' tents and shelters in Rafah, Gaza
A Palestinian child plays with the rubble after Israel bombs Palestinians' tents and shelters in Rafah, Gaza - Anadolu

On Wednesday, Israeli tanks carried out a second day of attacks in Rafah despite a ruling by the International Court of Justice that Israel stop its operations there because of the huge potential for loss of life.

Biden’s red line

Some 1.4 million people have taken shelter in the southern Gaza city, having been displaced in the seven months of war.

Samuel Johann, the emergency coordinator of Médecins Sans Frontières’s in Gaza, said: “This Israeli attack on a populated camp in a so-called ‘safe zone’ in Rafah shows the complete disregard for the lives of civilians in Gaza.

“Women and children were among the people that were brought to the stabilisation point, and once again, civilians are paying the price of this war.”

Joe Biden, US President, has repeatedly warned Israel not to attack Rafah, claiming it would cross a red line if it does and result in a pause to the supply of US weapons to Israel.

The US skirted around the issue on Sunday, with John Kirby, the White House National Security Council spokesman, saying: “As a result of this strike on Sunday, I have no policy changes to speak to.”

Ms Haley was a hawkish UN envoy under Donald Trump and her term overlapped with Mr Danon.