New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg visited Ashkelon on Sunday and expressed his support of the IDF's Operation Cast Lead in the Strip.
Speaking at a press conference in Ashkelon, the Jewish mayor said that if he was the State of Israel, he would do anything to defend his residents, and they would expect no less from him.
Bloomberg added that New Yorkers have suffered from terror on only two occasions, but they knew all about it, and that since Ashkelon has been under attack every day since Israel left Gaza, it has the right to defend itself.
Mayor Bloomberg in Ashkelon hospital (photo: Gil Yohanan)
Stressing the deep ties with Israel, the mayor said that both US President George Bush and President-elect Barack Obama gave legitimacy for the Gaza operation.
Bloomberg continued to say that the situation in the region was one in which Hamas terrorists wished to destroy Israel, and at the same time were destroying Palestinians who are not interested in war.
Jewish Congressman Gary Ackerman who joined Bloomberg on his visit said Israel had to defend itself, pointing out that in Africa and certain Asian nations hundreds of thousands of people were being massacred without any protest, but that when it comes to Israel, everyone cries out.
Expressing his support, Ackerman said what Israel is doing is important, and any statements to the contrary were like telling a woman who was being raped that she must not defend herself.
Gazans being treated in AshkelonBloomberg, who has already visited Israel's rocket-battered region in the past, visited the Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon and went down to the children's ward that has been relocated to the bomb shelter.
The mayor met with two Palestinian women from Gaza who were staying at the hospital. One of the women, from Gaza's Rimal neighborhood, arrived with her grandson that was born some three weeks ago and suffered medical problems. The boy's mother was left behind in Gaza and could not leave.
The other Palestinian woman Bloomberg met with was pregnant and waiting to give birth.
After inquiring about the two women's conditions, Bloomberg said it was unfortunate that children, as well as many innocent people are killed in wars, but the situation in the hospital was a testament to the State of Israel's humanity.
During his visit to the hospital Bloomberg was accompanied by CEO Dr. Shimon Scharf and Ashkelon's Mayor Benny Vaknin.
Scharf told Bloomberg that his hospital has treated and continues to treat Palestinian patients.
Mayor Vaknin added, "In recent years the hospital has treated hundreds, and maybe thousands of Palestinians from Gaza, and unfortunately, it is actually the Hamas organization that is harming the innocents and not allowing them to arrive at the hospital for treatment."