Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie visited Israel on Sunday, becoming the first Republican presidential hopeful to visit the country since the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks.
Christie started his trip with a tour of Kfar Azza, a kibbutz that was destroyed by Hamas militants. Speaking with reporters, he reiterated his support for Israel, saying, "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, and why in the future we need to stand absolutely shoulder to shoulder with Israel."
He also delivered a message to Americans demonstrating in favor of a cease-fire: "Come to Israel and see it for yourself."
"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's no question that there is," he later added.
Christie called on U.S. leaders to visit Israel. "You can't really understand it until you see it," he said.
The GOP presidential candidate announced at a town hall in Merrimack, New Hampshire, Thursday night that he would meet with family members of abducted civilians, Israel Defense Forces soldiers and Israeli government officials during his trip.
"If you really want to lead, you need to go over and show the people of Israel that one person running for president of the United States cares enough to get on an airplane," he said at the town hall.
Christie told reporters that the Israeli foreign ministry late last week invited him to come to Israel.
Shortly after the Hamas attacks on Oct. 7, Christie tweeted, "We must do whatever it takes to support the State of Israel in its time of grave danger, and we must end the scourge of Iran-backed terrorism."
He's continued to defend Israel, saying at the third GOP presidential debate in Miami this past Wednesday, that if he were in the White House, his message to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would be, "America is here no matter what it is you need at any time to preserve the state of Israel."
Christie is also a proponent of providing aid to both Israel and Ukraine and has made defending U.S. interests abroad central to his campaign. In August, Christie visited Ukraine and met with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
"If we want to remain the richest, freest country the world's ever known, we have to engage with our allies around the world," he told CNN on Sunday.
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