Military aid to Israel ran the gamut from the patently absurd — one used food steamer valued at $2,100 — to the lethal — 93 F-16D fighter jets valued at a total of nearly $2.5 billion. With nearly 500 categories of weapons transferred to Israel, the US is pervasively, intricately and comprehensively involved in arming its military.
These weapons transfers also make the US deeply complicit in almost every action the Israeli military takes to entrench its illegal 43-year military occupation of the Palestinian West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip and the apartheid policies that undergird its government’s stance toward Palestinians.
From September 2000-December 2009, roughly the same period during which the US transferred these 670 million weapons to Israel, the Israeli military killed at least 2,969 Palestinians, of whom 1,128 were children, who took no part in hostilities, according to the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem.
For example, Israel killed 446 unarmed Palestinians, including 149 children, with missiles fired from helicopters. The Pentagon classifies the number, types and value of missiles transferred to Israel; however, the US gave Israel nearly 200 AH-64D Apache, Sikorsky CH-53 and Cobra helicopters from which at least some of these lethal missiles were fired. It was likely one such US-supplied missile from a US-supplied helicopter that Israel fired in the Jabalya refugee camp in the Gaza Strip on 29 December 2008, which killed five sisters, Jawaher (age 4), Dina (age 7), Samar (age 12), Ikram (age 14) and Tahrir Baulusha (age 17) during an attack on a nearby mosque.
Israel’s misuse of US weapons to commit human rights abuses like these against Palestinian civilians should trigger sanctions against, rather than increasing amounts of military aid to, Israel. The Arms Export Control Act limits the use of US weapons to “internal security” and “legitimate self-defense.” Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip is defined by the US government as a foreign military occupation, and the killing of thousands of unarmed civilians in support of a military occupation cannot be justified as legitimate without distorting the meaning of self-defense.
In addition, the Foreign Assistance Act strictly prohibits US foreign assistance to any country that “engages in a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally-recognized human rights.” The State Department’s recently released 2010 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices documents amply, if not comprehensively, Israel’s human rights abuses of Palestinians.