Two U.S. political candidates arrived in Israel this past week to show support for IDF troops and Israeli civilians in the south living under Gaza rocket fire. California’s Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, Ron Nehring, and Delaware’s Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, Kevin Wade tweeted about their visits, as they experienced sirens and rocket attacks alongside Israelis.
“I’m here to lend my voice of support to Israel and against Hamas,” Nehring told Tazpit News Agency. Nehring, who has visited Israel nine different times, and was currently in the country with a Jewish National Fund solidarity mission, visited wounded soldiers in hospitals and children in bomb shelters during the trip.
“There’s been a lot more rockets and sirens on this trip than previous ones,” commented Nehring. “I met with IDF soldiers who are part of the Iron Dome battery unit that protects the region around Ben Gurion Airport and I visited children staying in Sderot bomb shelters.”
Since late 2012, over 2,322 Qassam rockets have been fired towards Sderot.
“It’s really clear to me who the aggressors are here and we need to speak about this with total clarity,” Nehring told Tazpit. “Israelis and Palestinians are victims of Hamas, who are one of the bad actors fueling this region’s conflict.”
For Kevin Wade, who came to Israel on his own initiative, it was the Delaware Republican’s first visit to the Jewish state. He shared his impressions after visiting with the IDF soldiers along the Gaza border. “They have a very tough fight and they are facing serious tunnel warfare,” Wade stated. “These soldiers are young, for some, it’s the first time their facing this kind of combat warfare. You can see in their eyes they’ve been through a lot. I’m impressed with their will and morale to finish the job,” he told Tazpit.
“I believe that you have to see the reality here yourself in order to understand what’s going on,” he added. “News briefs aren’t enough.”
Wade, who is an engineer, said he wants to bring his wife on his next visit to Israel. “I haven’t had much of a chance to see Israel as a tourist on this trip,” he said. “It’s been a fact-finding mission and I will share what I’ve learned back home.”
Over 2,968 Gaza rockets have been fired at Israeli cities and communities since Operation Protective Edge began three weeks ago, on July 8. Hamas started the war with 15,000 active fighters, who rely mostly on anti-tank missiles and IEDs (improvised explosive devices) when fighting against IDF troops in Gaza and along the border. In addition, Hamas has booby-trapped hundreds of homes in Gaza with improvised IEDs and has dug 31 known terror tunnels with one-third of them with shafts inside Israeli territory. The IDF reports that it has killed over 1,000 Hamas fighters and has conducted 1,500 strikes against missile sites in Gaza, significantly weakening manufacturing and rocket-launching capabilities. IDF troops are continuing to destroy and target Hamas’s combat units and rocket-making facilities as well as weapons storage sites.