Jon Voight in Israel
I love this man.
Award-winning American actor Jon Voight visited Israeli victims of Palestinian rocket attacks in Sderot on Tuesday, taking pictures with children and speaking out harshly against latest truce efforts to stop the rocket barrages and Israeli reprisals in Gaza.
Voight described the southern Israeli town as a “war zone.” Sderot is a frequent target of Palestinian rocket fire.
“When I see these children, from my perspective they are traumatized children from a war zone,” Voight said. “You are on the front line.”
During his visit, he met the town’s mayor and families affected by Palestinian rockets.
Voight, who a best actor Academy Award in 1979, is also the estranged father of American actress Angelina Jolie.
On Monday, Voight met families affected by Palestinian attacks in a Jerusalem restaurant. One man sat in a wheelchair, missing both his legs after a suicide bombing in Jerusalem in 2002. Another man still had his arm in a sling from an attack on the now-dismantled Israeli settlement bloc in the northern Gaza Strip.
Voight, surrounded by photographers, knelt down next to children and sketched a picture of King David – a prominent Jewish biblical figure – next to a little boy. The young boy’s father was killed in a suicide bombing on a bus in 2004.
Voight said his experiences led him to believe that Israel should not negotiate with Palestinians militants for a truce. An Egyptian mediator was in Jerusalem on Monday to work on a truce proposal. Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip frequently fire rockets toward nearby Israeli communities, prompting deadly army airstrikes and ground assaults into Gaza. On Monday, an elderly Israeli woman was killed after a Palestinian rocket fired from Gaza exploded in a village outside Gaza.
“They are barbarians,” Voight said, referring to the Gaza militants. “They are relentless, looking to destroy (Israel),” the actor said. “If somebody breaks your leg, don’t give another. Don’t play this game.”
Palestinians complain that Israel is responsible for much of the deprivation in poverty-stricken Gaza. Though it pulled out of the territory in 2005, Israel controls all but one of its border crossings. Since the Islamic militant Hamas overran Gaza last year, Israel has enforced a blockade, leading to severe shortages of vital supplies.
After meeting the Israeli children, the actor failed to launch a bunch of colorful balloons tied to a bag that held prayers for peace. The weight of the bag kept the balloons skirting the ground. “God is down there, too,” he joked.
Voight was the guest of Chabad, an ultra-Orthodox Jewish outreach program that helps Israeli victims of militant attacks. “It’s like a warm hug,” said Ester Zigron, a 42-year-old woman whose husband was wounded in an attack and left partially blind and deaf.