Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the US aircraft carrier George H. W. Bush on Monday where he told the American seamen gathered before him that "when your grandchildren ask you where you were during the war of civilizations, the battle between good and evil, you can tell them you were on the front line, on board the George H. W. Bush."
Telling his audience that their grandchildren "will thank you. I thank you, in the name of the people of Israel," Netanyahu also said that he had visited another aircraft carrier during his first term as prime minister, some 20 years ago, adding that since then relations between the US and Israel have become much stronger.
Just as the aircraft carrier represented a symbol of the battle between good and evil, Netanyahu continued, so is Israel a symbol of a world fighting for light in a face of darkness. He ended his speech by wishing Americans a happy Independence Day, which will be marked on Tuesday.
Also in attendance was US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, who pointed out that Netanyahu is the first head of state to be invited on board the George H. W. Bush vessel, and that the gesture is a testament to the robust relationship between the US and Israel.
US Navy Admiral Michelle Howard also spoke at the event, saying that the visit was proof that the US is ready to follow through on its commitments to its friends and allies.
The George H. W. Bush's current stated mission is to counter ISIS in Iraq and Syria and assist ground troops on related missions. Aerial Operations Commander Chris Hill stated that the aerial forces aboard the ship, and particularly the F-18 jets, have recently carried out close to 600 combat excursions in the East Mediterranean Sea region.
The George H. W. Bush, which has been docked at the Haifa Port since Saturday, was built in 2009 for a staggering cost of $6.2 billion, making it the newest and most expensive ship in the US Navy. It is also the first aircraft carrier to visit Israel in 17 years. Two weeks ago, an F-18 took off from the aircraft carrier and intercepted a Syrian Sukhoi-22 jet that the US claims had bombed an area close to the location of US positions. It was the first time the US had downed a manned aircraft since 1999.
The size of a small town, the aircraft carrier is home to 5,700 personnel and it goes beyond providing basic daily needs. In addition to thousands of meals being served per day, services include leisure facilities, a café and clubs. Several sports teams have also been formed on the ship.