Critics Slam Nikki Haley for Controversial Message on Artillery Shell

Nikki Haley visits Kibbutz Nir Oz, Israel, on May 27, 2024.

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 and in . The new images, however, have sparked significant backlash.

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

During her visit on Tuesday, Haley, the former South Carolina governor and U.N. ambassador who unsuccessfully 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 her presidential campaign in March and, despite forcefully opposing him during her bid, last week that she would vote for Trump in November. Trump, meanwhile, 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 , where many Palestinian civilians have taken refuge amid the war in Gaza. At least 45 people were 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 the civilian deaths as a “tragic mistake”—though have been killed by Israeli airstrikes since then. 

The U.S., Israel’s ally and , 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 earlier this month to withhold some weapons shipments from Israel if Netanyahu ordered a major invasion of Rafah—a move Biden 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 . “You are either a friend or not a friend.”