How the US is arming Israel's genocide in Gaza
"I think it's a safe assumption to say that U.S. weapons are being used extensively in the current Israeli operations in Gaza," Elias Yousif, arms transfer expert at US think tank the Stimson Center, told the Time magazine last month.
Yousif's assumption has been confirmed by The Wall Street Journal, which recently reported the shipment of deadly weapons by the US to its ironclad ally Israel, who has been pounding the besieged and densely populated Gaza Strip for two months in a disproportionate retaliation to Hamas rockets fired into Israel on October 7.
According to the WSJ report, the US has sent about 100 BLU-109, 2,000-pound bunker-buster bombs due to its ability to penetrate fortified and hard structures. The US used these bombs in its war in Afghanistan—and also in the Vietnam War—but its usage in the cramped Gaza Strip has proven to be deadly, claiming thousands of civilian lives. It's worth noting that the Geneva Conventions prohibits the use of these high-impact ammunition in highly populated areas, and are only allowed to be used in "extreme circumstances of self-defence," neither of which are applicable for Gaza.
Apart from the bunker busters, since the beginning of the Gaza war, the US has also given Israel "15,000 bombs and 57,000 155mm artillery shells" along with "more than 5,000 unguided Mk82 bombs, more than 5,400 Mk84 bombs, about 1,000 GBU-39 small-diameter bombs, and approximately 3,000 JDAMs." Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) kits are capable of converting unguided bombs into GPS-guided weapons. In fact, according to a report by Bloomberg, Boeing has sped up delivery of as many as 1,800 JDAM kits to apartheid Israel, after Israel started attacks on Gaza.
By arming the genocide in Gaza, the US is aiding and abetting war crimes and crimes against humanity. The onus is on the international community—many of these powerful countries are also Israel's allies and arms suppliers—the UN, especially the Security Council—of which, unfortunately, the US is a permanent member with a vetoing power—and the ICC, to stop the insane civilian killing spree in Gaza. This is no longer a war against Hamas resistance force; this is a war against civilians, against children. This is genocide unfolding in real time.
While the US has been opaque about its military support to Israel—apart from the $14.5 billion military aid package for Israel, in addition to the yearly $3.8 billion military aid that it provides Israel since 2016 under a 10-year plan, and the warships and nuclear submarines sent to the Middle East—in stark contrast to its transparency during the shipment of arms to Ukraine, there is no doubt that US weapons, which are being provided with visible enthusiasm to the Israeli occupation forces, are being used to commit war crimes in Gaza.
This is, however, in direct violation of the Conventional Arms Transfer (CAT) policy of the US, which ironically the Biden administration issued in February this year. The objective of the CAT policy is to guide the country's arms sales decisions to other actors. The policy clearly states that the US will not transfer arms in cases when "more likely than not" these would be used to commit specific violations, which include "grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions of 1949, including attacks intentionally directed against civilian objects or civilians protected as such," and "other serious violations of international humanitarian or human rights law."
Israel continues to commit all these violations. It has bombed UNRWA schools sheltering civilians, levelled housing complex in Jabalia refugee camp that has killed more than 100 civilians (shamelessly justifying it by suggesting that it also killed a Hamas leader), bombed ambulances and forcefully sieged hospitals, rendering them useless and killing civilian patients, choked premature infants to death by destroying their oxygen support, and still the US is supplying them with weapons, arms and ammunitions.
As if these were not enough, the US is also providing Israel with moral support. When Israel was ravaging the Al Shifa hospital, the US lent its support for the heinous war crime, with the US national security spokesperson John Kirby confidently parroting Israeli narrative, telling reporters, "We have information that confirms that Hamas is using that particular hospital for a command and control mode… That is a war crime." It has been weeks since the Israeli occupation forces sieged and moved out of the hospital after multiple assaults, arrests and casualties, but no evidence with any shred of credibility to support these claims has been provided by Israel and the US.
This is in stark resemblance to when, two decades ago, the then US President George W Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell had strongly articulated that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction to justify their war on the country. While the exact number of casualties from the 2003 US invasion of Iraq cannot be ascertained, it is estimated that between 280,771 and 315,190 people have died in direct war-related violence. While some US apologists might say that the Iraq WMD claims were an intelligence failure, the repetition of the same in the case of Al Shifa hospital attack suggests otherwise. How can a nation with so many powerful and efficient intelligence agencies, including the feared CIA, make the same mistake on multiple occasions?
The White House has asked the Senate to remove restrictions in the supplementary budget request on October 20, which would pave the way for Israel to freely access all of the US' weapons cache—including smart bombs, missiles, military vehicles, and other ammunition and equipment that the US set up during the 1980s—at a lower cost, and with limited Congressional oversight. On the one hand, the US advises Israel to minimise civilian casualties in Gaza; on the other hand, it arms Israel with the latest technologies to wreak bloody havoc in the tiny, highly-populated Gaza Strip. This is indicative of two scenarios: either the US is under the impression that people are extremely naïve, or it has lost all leverage with its ally. The latter could pose graver consequences for the already volatile Middle East, since Israel seems to be on a bombing spree, pounding Palestine, Lebanon, Syria and Yemen, and making open threats to any regime that could come to Palestine's aid.
By arming the genocide in Gaza, the US is aiding and abetting war crimes and crimes against humanity. The onus is on the international community—many of these powerful countries are also Israel's allies and arms suppliers—the UN, especially the Security Council (of which, unfortunately, the US is a permanent member with a vetoing power) and the ICC, to stop the insane civilian killing spree in Gaza. This is no longer a war against Hamas resistance force; this is a war against civilians, against children. This is genocide unfolding in real time. More than 15,200 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed by the Israeli occupation forces since October 7, including at least 6,600 children—many of them with US provided arsenal and weapons. There must be accountability for these heinous crimes.
Tasneem Tayeb is a columnist for The Daily Star. Her X handle is @tasneem_tayeb.
Views expressed in this article are the author's own.
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