Hamas takes aim at Nikki Haley for signing her name on Israeli weapon

A senior official of the Palestinian Hamas movement at war with Israel in the Gaza Strip has condemned former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. and Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley for signing her name to Israeli artillery shells during a trip to the U.S.-allied nation.

“Finish them! America loves Israel!” a flak jacket-wearing Haley was photographed writing along with her signature on a 155-millimeter M795 projectile during a visit Tuesday to northern Israeli communities affected by the ongoing border conflict with the Lebanese Hezbollah movement in connection with the war in Gaza.

“Israel is fighting the enemies of the USA. You must win this war,” Haley also said during the trip, according to a report shared with Newsweek by the office of Israel’s former ambassador to the United Nations and current Knesset member Danny Dannon.

Danon, who accompanied Haley, was also pictured writing a message of solidarity on the Israeli munitions and was quoted as saying, “The situation in the north is intolerable and cannot continue. Israel must take the initiative and change the equation. The residents of the north will return to their homes.”

The images stirred some anger among pro-Palestinian voices on social media in connection with reports of civilian casualties as a result of Israeli shelling in Gaza and southern Lebanon and they received direct criticism from Hamas spokesperson Basem Naim.

“What kind of human beings are those who are building their political career at the expense of remains of the victims?” Naim said in a message sent to Newsweek.

Former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. and Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley signs an Israeli artillery shell during a visit to the country’s northern border on May 28.

Office of Member of Knesset Danny Danon

The longest and deadliest-ever war in Gaza was sparked after Hamas led a surprise attack against Israel, killing more than 1,200 people, mostly civilians, by Israeli estimates. Since then, the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Hamas-led Gaza has counted more than 36,000 Palestinians killed, the majority of them women and children, while the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) has counted 282 killed within its ranks.

Newsweek has reached out to Danon and Haley as well as the White House for comment.

Haley served as Washington’s envoy to the U.N. under former President Donald Trump. In February 2023, the former South Carolina governor announced she would run for president, challenging Trump for the Republican nomination and becoming the first woman and Asian American in U.S. history to win a primary after coming out on top in Washington, D.C., and Vermont in March of this year.

She dropped out of the race shortly afterward, however, ceding the nomination to Trump, who has otherwise dominated the contest. Days before departing for Israel, she pledged to vote for Trump, who recently told News 12 New York he was considering her, alongside three other candidates, as his running mate.

Haley has been an ardent supporter of Israel and has cited President Joe Biden‘s policies toward Israel as being among the reasons she ultimately chose to back the Republican front-runner. Biden has also pledged his support for Israel throughout the conflict but has at times criticized Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for not doing enough to prevent civilian casualties or allow the sufficient flow of humanitarian aid in Gaza.

The criticisms mounted earlier this month when Biden withheld a shipment of bombs to Israel and threatened to halt further packages should Israel conduct a full-scale incursion into the southern Gaza city of Rafah. The IDF has continued to conduct operations in the border city but has said it was doing so on a “precise” and “limited” scale geared toward avoiding noncombatant deaths.

Yet on Tuesday, amid Haley’s visit to Israel, State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller responded to reports of a deadly blaze that local authorities said was sparked by an Israeli airstrike on Sunday and killed at least 50 people, followed by the deaths of 37 more in subsequent Israeli operations.

Miller said the U.S. was “deeply saddened” by the reports of the initial strike and had reached out to Israeli officials, who assured that the IDF was conducting an investigation into the operation.

“As we have said before, Israel has a right to go after the Hamas terrorists responsible for the cold-blooded murder of civilians—as appears to have been Israel’s aim here— and Hamas should stop hiding behind civilians in Gaza,” Miller said. “But Israel also has the obligation to do everything possible to minimize civilian harm as it carries out its operations.”

Still, he said that the scale of Israeli operations in Rafah has yet to cross the boundaries that Biden has warned about, though it was “something that we are watching very closely.”

In a video statement delivered Tuesday, IDF spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari commended the killing of what he said were “senior Hamas terrorists” in the strike on Sunday. He also expressed remorse for the ensuing fire, which he said remained under investigation, though he cast doubt that Israeli munitions were responsible for the inferno.

“Despite our efforts to minimize civilian casualties during the strike the fire that broke out was unexpected and unintended,” Hagari said. “This is a devastating incident which we did not expect. We are investigating what caused the fire that resulted in this tragic loss of life.”