President Javier Milei met on Thursday with relatives of Hamas hostages and visited a kibbutz that was attacked in the unprecedented October 7 raid.
Milei has been in Israel since Tuesday on his first official state visit as president, in a show of support for the country in the context of the Israel-Hamas conflict.
The president visited the kibbutz Nir Oz, 1.8 kilometers from the border with Gaza, which was hit hard during the attack. He spoke with survivors, including Argentine-Israeli dual nationals, and offered them words of support, his team said.
During a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday, he reiterated his promises to officially designate Hamas as a terrorist group and to move Argentina’s embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.
Hamas issued a statement saying that Milei’s plans constituted “an infringement of the rights of our Palestinian people to their land, and a violation of the rules of international law, considering Jerusalem as occupied Palestinian land.”
Jerusalem is considered sacred in Judaism, Islam, and Christianity, and both Palestine and Israel claim it as their own. The decision to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem thus constitutes a geopolitical gesture endorsing Israel’s claim to the city. The United States moved its embassy to Jerusalem in 2018, during Donald Trump’s presidency.
Mieli also visited sacred sites in Israel including the Wailing Wall and several churches.
On October 7, Hamas, the Islamist militant group that controls the Gaza Strip, launched an unprecedented attack on Israel, killing 1,200 people and taking around 240 hostages. In response, Israel unleashed a campaign of bombardment on the territory that has killed approximately 27,000 people and injured at least 65,000, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. Large swathes of the territory have been reduced to rubble.
In January, the United Nations International Court of Justice ordered Israel to ensure it did not commit genocide in Gaza as it ruled in a case filed by South Africa. Netanyahu has called the genocide charges against Israel “ridiculous.”
Argentines killed in Israel-Hamas war
It is believed that 21 Argentine nationals were kidnapped in the October 7 attack. Four Argentine-Israeli women were released in a prisoner swap in November. However, the fate of others remains uncertain: Hamas claimed that 10-month-old baby Kfir Bibas and his family had been killed in an Israeli raid, but their deaths could not be independently confirmed.
At least nine Argentines lost their lives in the attack.
Milei is accompanied on his trip by Presidency Secretary Karina Milei (who is also his sister), Foreign Minister Diana Mondino, and Argentina’s designated ambassador to Israel, Axel Wahnisch, who is a rabbi.
From Israel, he will continue his trip to Italy and the Vatican, where he will meet Pope Francis on Monday.