Fact Check

Does Photo Show Mike Pence Signing Israeli Artillery Shell?

In January 2024, former U.S. Vice President Mike Pence visited Israel.

Published Jan 10, 2024

 (Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons)
Image Via Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons
Claim:
A photograph authentically shows former U.S. Vice President Mike Pence signing an Israeli army artillery shell in January 2024.
Context

Israeli outlet Ynet appears to be the only source of the photograph. We are looking for independent confirmation about the photograph's origins and context.

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In January 2024, a viral photograph showed former U.S. Vice President Mike Pence apparently using a pen to sign artillery shells in Israel. He had visited Israel in a show of support after the October 2023 attack by Hamas fighters.

One post claimed he was signing bombs intended for Gaza. An article said he signed the weaponry with his own name.

The above photograph was posted by Ynet, an Israeli news organization that reported on Pence’s Jan. 5, 2024, visit to Israel’s border with Lebanon. Ynet appears to be the only source of the photograph and we are looking for independent confirmation of its authenticity. As such, we have rated this story as a "Research in Progress."

The article is in Hebrew and according to Google Translate, Pence was following a custom of signing artillery shells and wrote "For Israel.” Pence was also on the northern border with Lebanon, so the weapons on display were presumably intended to be used against Lebanon, according to The New Arab. Photographs in the same Ynet report showed Pence walking alongside Israeli soldiers and officers. The report stated he ate lunch with them.

The unfurled link to the article also revealed a closeup of the artillery shells with Pence's supposed note and signature:

Pence described his visit in a post on X, writing: “Traveled to Israel’s Northern Command today to meet with military leaders and joined @IDF soldiers stationed near Israel’s border with Lebanon.”

The weapons shown in the photograph according to Ynet were shells of the artillery forces. Shells are a form of ammunition.

Maya Lecker, an editor at Israeli news outlet, Haaretz, criticized Pence’s signing of the weapons in an opinion piece. She described how many Israelis had begun the practice of signing mortar shells or missiles with poems or dedications to their loved ones before launching them into Gaza or Lebanon, calling the action “morbid” and “revengeful.”

She wrote:

To some of us watching, especially from afar, this seems counterintuitive, even grotesque: Why would someone who has just lost a friend or family member in an awful terror attack want to take part in hurting another person? In continuing the circle of violence? For others, it all makes perfect sense: People find comfort in the symbolic act that makes them feel like they are part of fighting back. And anyway, are missiles with a few squiggles made in black marker deadlier than others? Aren't the missiles themselves the problem?

But what ordinary people with little control over any aspect of their lives should be forgiven for, powerful heads of state and decision makers shouldn't be. When Israeli President Isaac Herzog signed a mortar shell in a photo op with IDF soldiers on the border last month, he was saying – like Haaretz journalist Netta Ahituv pointed out – that "revenge" is an official goal of the war.

And when former U.S. Vice President Mike Pence – a representative of a country that has the power to use military and financial support to Israel to change the course of the war – signed a mortar while on a visit to the Lebanese border last week, he was sending a message of gleeful killing and uncritical thinking.

Since fighting broke out between Hamas and Israel in October 2023, armed groups in Lebanon, including Hezbollah, have engaged in an exchange of fire with Israel. Thousands of people along the Lebanon and Israel border were displaced as a result.

In sum, we were unable to independently confirm what exactly Pence wrote on the shell or find an additional media source for the above photograph. Until we know more, we rate this story as a "Research in Progress."

Sources

“Israeli Minister Gantz Says Situation on Lebanon Border ‘Demands Change.’” Al Jazeera, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2023/12/27/israeli-minister-gantz-says-situation-on-lebanon-border-demands-change. Accessed 8 Jan. 2024.

Lecker, Maya. “Mike Pence Shouldn’t Have Signed His Name on an Israeli Bomb.” Haaretz, Jan. 7, 2024. Haaretz, https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/haaretz-today/2024-01-07/ty-article/.highlight/mike-pence-shouldnt-have-signed-his-name-on-an-israeli-bomb/0000018c-e4a6-d765-ab9d-f4ffc84e0000. Accessed 8 Jan. 2024.

"Mike Pence Visits Sderot, Israel." Associated Press, www.youtube.com, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bunw130cWeE. Accessed 8 Jan. 2024.

"Shell | Types, Calibers, Uses." Britannica, Jan. 7, 2024, https://www.britannica.com/technology/shell-ammunition. Accessed 8 Jan. 2024.

“US’ Mike Pence ‘signs Weapons for Lebanon Strikes’ in Israel.” The New Arab, Jan. 6, 2024, https://www.newarab.com/news/us-mike-pence-signs-weapons-lebanon-strikes-israel. Accessed 8 Jan. 2024.

"קראוס, יאיר. “מרק קובה עם הלוחמים בצפון: סגנו לשעבר של טראמפ ביקר בחזית, וחתם על פגז.”" Ynet, Jan. 5, 2024. www.ynet.co.il, https://www.ynet.co.il/news/article/s1pviobua. Accessed 8 Jan. 2024.

Nur Nasreen Ibrahim is a reporter with experience working in television, international news coverage, fact checking, and creative writing.