“Selling American-made weapons to Israel while Members of Congress are asking for a ceasefire is completely tone deaf,”
GAZA — As diplomatic powers and regional players meet behind closed doors for ceasefire talks, Israel continues showering Gaza with missile fire. Israeli airstrikes have so far killed at least 230 Palestinians, including 65 children, and injured 1,710 others. The heavy bombardment has also wiped out entire residential buildings and houses, leaving 72,000 people homeless, and has destroyed media offices, schools, libraries and charities.
According to the Israeli Air Force (IAF), on Wednesday night Israel fired 120 missiles in the span of 25 minutes. The most recent attack hit the city of Khan Yunis in Gaza, killing one and injuring eight. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) could not provide an exact number of how many bombs are being dropped on Gaza per hour. The IAF did not respond to press inquiries. The Times of Gaza, however, reported that more than 100 airstrikes occurred in a 30 minute period on May 14.
Amid the rubble, Palestinians in Gaza have found unexploded missiles with writing indicating these bombs were manufactured in the United States. The use of American-made weaponry in Israel’s latest assault on Gaza is renewing discussions on U.S. foreign assistance to Israel and U.S. complicity in Israeli state violence.
On his Twitter page, Muhammad Shehada, Gazan writer and analyst manager at Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor, wrote Israel struck the Al-Jalaa Tower, which housed the Associated Press bureau and Al Jazeera offices, with a GBU-31 bomb on Saturday. Israel has also used GBU-39 Small Diameter and Mark 84 bombs in its current onslaught. The GBU-31 and GBU-39 bombs are made by Boeing and the Mark 84 bombs are produced by General Dynamics. Both missiles are manufactured in the U.S.
— Muhammad Shehada (@muhammadshehad2) May 17, 2021
Several posts on Twitter report F-15, F-16 and F-35 fighter jets have also been hovering over Gaza. And for further verification, the IAF’s website boasts these three warplanes as part of its arsenal.
Israeli F-16 raid yesterday (Al Wehda st, near Balmera restaurant, central Gaza). A witness at the scene tells me that 20-30 missiles damaged roads, created huge craters and felled a five-storey building. Each floor had six apartments. Entire families with children were killed. pic.twitter.com/XYrRRIQ03o
— Ahmed Maher | أحمد (@amaherYAH) May 16, 2021
Palestinians look at an unexploded bomb dropped by an Israeli F-16 warplane on #Gaza City’s Rimal neighbourhood on May 18, 2021. Photo by Ashraf Amra#غزه_تقاوم #غزه_تقاوم #غزة_تحت_القصف pic.twitter.com/tCZ738wWnf
— Ashraf Amra (@amra_ashraf) May 18, 2021
Boeing makes the F-15 fighter jets and Lockheed Martin manufactures F-16 and F-35 warplanes. But these are not the only American corporations involved in the production of Israel’s military aircraft.
General Electric produces the engines for F-15 and F-16 jets. Raytheon Technologies creates the missiles used to arm F-15 and F-35 planes. According to the American Friends Service Committee’s Investigate Database, Northrop Grumman manufactures “approximately 35% of the Lockheed Martin F-35 aircraft, including its center fuselage, radar, avionics, electro-optics, navigation, communications and identification subsystems, and mission systems and mission-planning software.” The arms manufacturer has also partnered with the Israeli military industry to build the LITENING targeting pod, a weapons laser navigation system used on F-16 warplanes.
Military sales to Israel generate massive profits for these American corporations. Boeing secured a $2.4 billion sale to Israel from the U.S. State Department last year. In February, the aerospace behemoth scored a whopping $9 billion deal with Israel’s Ministry of Defense. In the last decade, Raytheon’s contracts to Israel have totaled more than $4 billion. Lockheed Martin’s most recent sale to Israel is estimated at more than $2 billion. In 2016, General Electric obtained part of a $300 million sale to Israel. Northrop Grumman is less transparent about its international sales. Out of Northrop Grumman’s reported $36.8 billion in sales in 2020, 14 percent were international.
These companies did not respond to requests for comment from MintPress News.
A coordinated military alliance between the U.S. and Israel
Despite calling for de-escalation, President Joe Biden’s administration is going ahead with a $735 million weapons deal with Israel.
The major arms and aircraft manufacturers — Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Raytheon Technologies — are all expected to see their earnings boom with the pending sale. Boeing is the predicted primary beneficiary of the deal, given the sale is of its Joint Direct Attack Munitions.
Israel receives $3.8 billion in foreign military assistance annually from the U.S., of which Israel must spend 75% on American-made weaponry under an agreement between the two governments. The recent $735 million sale came out of that yearly aid, according to Danaka Katovich, Middle East and Peace Collective coordinator at the women-led, anti-war organization CODEPINK.
Katovich pointed out that these arms deals are not the only way the U.S. and Israel work together in a defense capacity: “The U.S. and Israel have had a strong military Alliance since the Nakba,” Katovich said, referring to Israel’s ethnic cleansing campaign of Palestine in 1947 and 1948 known as the Nakba, or “catastrophe” in Arabic. “Israel and the U.S. do joint military exercises together, and the countries often work together to develop systems and weapons as well.”
Katovich also alluded to reports addressing how the U.S. National Security Agency provides Israel with unfiltered intelligence, including data of American citizens.
Biden facing growing Democratic opposition
Congressional pushback against the Biden administration’s arms deal has been quick and sharp. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) drafted a resolution blocking the quarter-billion-dollar deal, writing in a tweet on Wednesday that the U.S. should not be “rubber-stamping” weapons to Israel.
The United States should not be rubber-stamping weapons sales to the Israeli government as they deploy our resources to target international media outlets, schools, hospitals, humanitarian missions and civilian sites for bombing.
We have a responsibility to protect human rights. https://t.co/OctBNYFpwp
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) May 19, 2021
Rep. Betty McCollum also condemned the arms sale. “Selling American-made weapons to Israel while Members of Congress are asking for a ceasefire is completely tone deaf,” the Minnesota Democrat told MintPress News.
Israel needs to end the bombing of Palestinian families in Gaza and the Biden administration must do more to bring a conclusion to this terrible crisis as swiftly as possible.”
McCollum is a prominent advocate for Palestinian rights in Congress. In April, she introduced a bill “[ensuring] that United States taxpayer funds are not used by the Government of Israel to support” military detention of Palestinian children and further annexation of Palestinian land. She said support is growing for H.R. 2590 every day, emphasizing how four congressional politicians have signed on to the bill since May 12 — around when Israel began its bombing campaign against Gaza.
As the Democratic Party appears to be shifting in its stance on Palestine-Israel, CODEPINK’s Katovich confirmed change is coming, albeit slowly:
With a lot of Democrats who have been in Congress for a long time, there hasn’t been a lot of movement on their thoughts and actions on this issue. But I think there is some hope with the braver people in Congress like Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. So, we are moving in the right direction.
Countering AIPAC’s relentless pressure
Amid growing calls from progressive politicians and activist groups in the U.S. to end Israel’s bombardment of the Palestinian enclave, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a pro-Israel lobby group, is reviving pressure on the U.S. government to “unequivocally stand with…Israel.”
Katovich said forces in the U.S.’s pro-Israel lobby are tremendously influential in fostering the continued military alliance between the two governments, adding:
The Israel lobby says its main goal is to promote Israel’s interests. And what is Israel’s greatest interest rather than sustaining a military occupation over Palestinians? So, Israel needs U.S. backing to continue that occupation.”
For Katovich, understanding what our taxpayer dollars and financial investments contribute to can help dismantle the U.S.’s imperialist endeavors:
It’s something we can have community control over in some ways, because a lot of our city, retirement, and public funds are invested in these companies and fund the greater war machine in the United States. So, if people know this and they can research it and can look into it, they can mobilize their cities to divest from war.”
Jessica Buxbaum is a Jerusalem-based journalist for MintPress News covering Palestine, Israel, and Syria. Her work has been featured in Middle East Eye, The New Arab and Gulf News.