LOS ANGELES - California Gov. Gavin Newsom opened a week-long trip to China on Monday with an assurance that his state will always be a partner on climate issues no matter how the U.S. presidential election turns out next year.
Newsom’s visit comes as U.S.-Chinese relations witnessed a sharp deterioration in recent years due to trade disputes, U.S. support for self-governing Taiwan and human rights concerns, among other contentious issues.
But before this, Newsom made a stop in Israel on the way. After seeing the stories from there, he said he was invited by the Israeli government to come, and he felt like he had no choice.
In an exclusive sit-down interview with FOX 11's Elex Michaelson, who is the only TV reporter in California's press pool traveling alongside Newsom, the governor revealed he met with survivors and was shown graphic videos of the beheadings.
"To see the beheadings directly, not just severed heads, to be there with people who survived the atrocities and attack, including a young girl whose leg was shot, multiple surgeries, wearing a Lakers shirt because she loves the Lakers - connecting on a human level, connecting back to California. She survived because so many bodies were killed on top of her," Newsom said. "One body was on her leg, which kept her from bleeding out, and she watched as more and more of her friends were shot in a bomb shelter… to see her with her mom, was a pretty intense and special thing."
Newsom met with Israel's president and prime minister and was shown horrific images.
"The worst part about it — the actual video, I saw heads, beheaded people, their bodies, lay there, dead. To see someone’s eyes and mouth being poked to see if they were alive, to find out they were alive after being shot on the ground," he said. "It connects to an understanding of the emotion of the Israelis about the atrocities that occurred, and about the 1,400 lives lost. It’s not intellectual any longer."
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After his Hong Kong trip, he will head to Beijing, Shanghai and the provinces of Guangdong and Jiangsu. Newsom’s agenda also includes conversations on "strengthening cultural ties and combating xenophobia," and promoting economic development and tourism.
Meanwhile in Israel, the country is expected to launch a ground offensive in Gaza following Hamas’ brutal Oct. 7 rampage into southern Israeli communities. Tanks and troops have been massed at the Gaza border, and Israel says it has stepped up airstrikes in order to reduce the risk to troops in the next stages.
More than 1,400 people in Israel have been killed — mostly civilians slain during the initial Hamas attack. At least 222 people were captured and dragged back to Gaza, including foreigners, the military said Monday, updating a previous figure.
More than 5,000 Palestinians, including some 2,000 minors and around 1,100 women, have been killed, the Hamas-run Health Ministry said Monday. That includes the disputed toll from an explosion at a hospital last week. The toll has climbed more rapidly in recent days, with the ministry reporting 436 additional deaths in just the last 24 hours.
This is the deadliest by far of five wars fought between Israel and Hamas in less than 15 years.
You can catch FOX 11's Elex Michaelson all week as he travels on the ground in China with Gov. Newsom. He'll have exclusive reports on Good Day LA as well as the FOX 11 News at 5, 6, and 10.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.