Republican US presidential candidate Chris Christie eschewed calls for a ceasefire in Gaza during a visit Sunday to a kibbutz devastated by Hamas during the terror group’s October 7 attack, saying it would not make sense for Israel to halt fighting now.
“We can’t ask Israel to stand down if they believe there is still a legitimate violent threat against them and their people. And I think there is no question that there is,” said Christie during a tour of the ruins of Kibbutz Kfar Aza alongside Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana.
Christie, a former governor of New Jersey and 2024 hopeful, said that Israel “must continue to fight until they have degraded that capability to a point where they can say to their people, come back and live her safely and securely. Until that comes, I don’t think calls for a ceasefire make any sense.”
With antisemitism and anti-Israel protests flaring up across the United States, Christie said that many Americans do support Israel’s right to defend itself.
“I want the people of Israel to know that there are hundreds of millions of Americans who stand with them, who understand the atrocities that were committed,” he said. “In the future, we need to stand absolutely shoulder to shoulder with Israel, no daylight.”
The politician said he visited Kfar Aza “because I wanted to see this for myself.”
Former NJ governor and guy who wants to be president Chris Christie tours the destruction in Kibbutz Kfar Aza with Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana.
"We can't ask Israel to stand down if they believe there is still a legitimate violent threat against them and their people." pic.twitter.com/BuW4DsSsru
— Amy Spiro (@AmySpiro) November 12, 2023
Christie, donning a flak jacket and flanked by an entourage of Israeli soldiers, made his way through homes with walls riddled by bullet holes and couches stained with blood. Over a month since the massacres in southern Israel by Hamas-led terrorists, in which some 1,200 people were killed and 240 taken hostage, many Kfar Aza houses are burnt out and destroyed; structures left standing are scribbled with Arabic graffiti.
“To be able to walk through a neighborhood like this and see what was done to the people, to still be able to walk into one of these homes and smell the death still, a month later, is something that I think the American people need to know,” he said.
Christie said that following his visit to Israel, “I intend to go back to the US and talk about this regularly, so that the American people who are being asked to sacrifice and to help Israel financially and militarily will know that what they are doing is not only a noble effort on their part, but also what friends do for friends.”
He added: “America has no greater friend in the world than Israel.”
The former New Jersey governor is the first Republican presidential candidate to travel to Israel since war broke out last month.
Christie, the 2024 race’s most vocal critic of former US president Donald Trump, has cast himself as the only Republican willing to directly take him on. Trump has not visited Israel during the current campaign cycle, though US President Joe Biden has.
Christie praised the way that Biden has handled relations with Israel during wartime. He said he did not believe that the voices in the US calling for an immediate ceasefire, including those taking part in mass rallies, represent the vast majority of Americans.
“I don’t think it’s the role of the United States to instruct the State of Israel on how to provide safety and security for its people,” he said. “I think we can give advice, as friends give advice in private. But publicly, my view is that we need to stand with Israel.”
By far the most strident critic of Trump in the Republican field, Christie has consistently been in the low single digits in national polls, far behind the former president.