August might be the perfect time to visit Aspen or Paris, but a handful of members instead chose to visit a battle zone: Israel.
Eight lawmakers made the week-long trek to the Holy Land during the latest round of fighting between Israel and Hamas, according to travel disclosures. The American Israel Education Foundation, AIPAC's charitable wing, picked up the $156,260 tab for the excursion.
For Reps. Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.) and Morgan Griffith (R-Va.), it was the first time they had ever let an outside group pay for their travel. Reps. Tom Graves (R-Ga.), Janice Hahn (D-Calif.), Randy Hultgren (R-Ill.), Steve Israel (D-N.Y.), Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) also traveled with them.
The congressional delegation met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other officials to discuss the ongoing conflict. The group's meeting with Netanyahu at the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum was interrupted by a phone call with Secretary of State John Kerry, who was trying to broker a ceasefire agreement between Jerusalem and Gaza. During the week-long voyage, Egypt brokered a temporary ceasefire while the Israelis and Palestinians could negotiate on a permanent agreement. So far the military operation has claimed the lives of over 2,000 Palestinians and 70 Israelis.
The group also toured the Syrian border and attended seminars hosted by Israeli academics and military officials on security threats to the region.