Jim Shannon Comments On Trip To Israel

Jim Shannon MP joins ELNET group of politicians visiting Israel

Strangford MP Jim Shannon has just returned from a trip to Israel which was funded by ELNET (European Leadership Network).

Also on the trip were a number of political figures from within the UK’s devolved parliaments, as well as local councillors and political figures from Germany.

Jim Shannon said: “The visit, which was superbly organised, took delegates to the sites in southern Israel that were gravely affected by the appalling Hamas atrocities of 7th October.

“We visited Sderot, which is less than a mile from the Gaza border, and heard a briefing from former IDF spokesman Lt. Colonel Peter Lerner, a man once dubbed ‘Israel’s other Iron Dome’.

“He spoke about the monumental failures on ‘Black Shabbat’, both in terms of how the IDF missed an operational understanding of Hamas’ short-term planning and failed to gauge its strategic aims.

Jim Shannon MP, second left, at the Gaza border with fellow politicians on the ELNET trip to Israel.

“Visiting Sderot, a city with 75,000 inhabitants, felt rather surreal with so much of the population yet to return following its evacuation six months ago.

“On 7th October, the Sderot police station came under assault from Hamas terrorists and almost all those inside were killed.

“It was destroyed and is now just an empty space.

“There was also a deeply moving visit to Re’im, the site of the Supernova festival massacre where 364 young people were murdered, tortured and abused in acts of unspeakable horror.

“Upon arrival, dozens of Jewish visitors were giving a moving rendition of Am Yisrael Chai, a powerful symbol of resilience and determination in the face of harrowing tragedy.”

He also explained that at Kibbutz Be’eri, a place that actively helped Palestinians in Gaza for many years, there was a stark reminder of the devastation caused on 7th October.

“One of the houses we visited belonged to Vivian Silver, the famous Canadian born peace activist who moved to this location some decades ago and actively campaigned for the Palestinians and the Bedouin,” said Jim Shannon.

“The burnt wreck of her property was a heart-breaking reminder of loss and suffering.

Jim Shannon pictured with Lt. Colonel Peter Lerner, dubbed’ the Iron Dome’.

“Standing in the ruins of the kibbutz, I could feel the full force of the evil of humanity that was present as I stood in that place.

“And yet the last words of our tour guide were also highly resonant, encouraging us to return in one year when the kibbutz would be rebuilt.

“At the Erez crossing, one could still see signs of the battles that took place on 7th October, including the hole that was blown through the border fence.

“And in Tel Aviv, we met with relatives of hostages in Gaza who lamented the failure to bring their loved ones home, with the mother of one hostage from Be’eri telling delegates that, ‘No price is too high’.

“We met some of the hostages’ families and in particular Amanda whose daughter Emily was kidnapped and that was incredibly difficult to look at the anguish of a mother in that place.

“We assured Amanda and all the others that I do raise the issue of the hostages and the protection of Israelis often at parliament to secure government attention and assurances.

“All round were the pictures of dead bodies prominent everywhere as we went from the airport right through.

“As a Christian, I also pray for them each day and that now I know their names, I will be upholding them in prayer before God daily – praying fervently, earnestly and frequently.”

He added that they now receive help and support from the Hostages and Missing Families Forum, which was formed a day after the attacks.

There were also important briefings from MKs in the Knesset and diplomats in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and academics explained Jim Shannon.

He added: “In Jerusalem, a place much quieter than in previous years in a sign of Israel’s decimated tourism industry, there was a powerful visit to Yad Vashem with a wreath that I laid.”

At the Holocaust Museum, Jim Shannon lays a wreath.

Visit to Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem, Israel

Jim Shannon MP after visiting the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem, Israel, said: “It was truly an emotional occasion and on my first visit to Israel. I was a bit anxious and not sure what to expect.

“We all know the horrific story of the murder of 6 million Jews by the Nazi Party in the 2nd World War.

“But the visit to the Yad Vashem museum told the story graphically with personal stories recorded, photographs and many, many historical items that filled in the gaps.

“The sheer awfulness was reinforced by the pictures of men, women and children, from babies to the elderly, killed just because they were Jewish. 

“I will never forget the video of young children 4/5 years old sitting side by side, one sitting by her friend who could not understand what was wrong with her friend and why she wasn’t moving – she was dead.

“Other starved children on their own, their parents dead.  ­­­­­­­­­­­Your heart aches within you at the despair made clear in these photos.

“The Question is ‘how can anyone do that to anyone else’? – I just could not conceive hating anyone that much.

He said that the trip to the Israel Holocaust Museum and other sites left him emotionally and physically exhausted with memories that will linger long and will haunt him for the rest of his whole life.

Jim Shannon said: “It was an honour and privilege to lay a wreath at the Holocaust Museum on behalf of the UK & NI delegation.

“A sad moment, but one of respect and in memory of those who were so brutally murdered by wicked, evil people, some of whom have received their just rewards in this world.

“And one thing is certain, they will get them in the next.”