Arizona’s Mark Kelly joins group of senators in Tel Aviv to show support for Israel

Oct 16, 2023, 8:38 AM | Updated: 4:30 pm

PHOENIX — U.S. Sen. Mark Kelly of Arizona pledged support for Israel in its war against Hamas during a trip to Tel Aviv over the weekend with a bipartisan group of senators.

“The Hamas terrorist organization is a threat to Israel and all who want peace, and we are going to continue to stand by Israel in its self-defense,” Kelly said during a press conference Sunday.

Kelly, a Democrat, was part of a contingent led by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-New York), the first Jewish Senate majority leader and the highest-ranking Jewish elected official in the U.S.

Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-Louisiana), Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Jacky Rosen (D-Nevada) also were in the traveling group.

“The meetings we had today were some of the toughest I’ve had in my 2½ years in the United States Senate, and some of the images and video that we saw were like I’ve never seen in my life,” Kelly said. “And I spent 25 years in the United States Navy, flying in combat over Iraq and Kuwait.”

The start of the press conference was delayed because the group had to take shelter after sirens signaled incoming rockets, Schumer said.

Why did U.S. senators, including Mark Kelly, visit Israel?

The senators met with high-level officials about what kind of support Israel needs for military, intelligence and humanitarian operations. They also spoke with families whose loved ones were taken hostage by Hamas.

“I’m doing everything in my power to ensure the Senate delivers the support Israel needs to accomplish these military, intelligence and humanitarian goals,” Schumer said.

The politics of a foreign aid package have become increasingly complicated, but Kelly and his colleagues vowed to stand by Israel.

“I will speak to members of Congress one by one if that’s what it takes to get Israel the munitions that you need to defend yourselves,” Kelly said.

Sen. Kelly brings message from Arizona’s Jewish community

Kelly said he’s been in close contact with Arizona’s Jewish community since Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7.

“I bring a message of support from them, and from so many Americans, who have been deeply affected by these attacks and are thinking about the Israeli people every single day,” said Kelly, whose wife, former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords, is Jewish.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Arizona’s Mark Kelly joins group of senators in Tel Aviv to show support for Israel