Over the past seven decades, as Israeli forces have violently expelled, killed and suppressed Palestinians, the U.S. has provided military support underscoring many of these incursions — to the tune of over 70,000 weapons, new data shows.
According to an analysis of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute Arms Transfers Database by Axios, the U.S. has transferred a huge cache of weapons to Israel since 1950 — shortly after the beginning of the Nakba, or “catastrophe,” in which Zionist forces expelled hundreds of thousands of Palestinians and established the state of Israel.
Most of these weapons are missiles and munitions, with munitions becoming the dominant weapon sent by the U.S. over the past 30 years, the analysis shows; Joint Direction Action Munitions (JDAMs), which have likely been used amid Israel’s current genocide of Gaza, are the most common singular weapon type. The U.S. has also provided Israel with aircrafts and ground vehicles like tanks.
Israel is the single largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid since World War II. Since the Nakba — which also involved U.S. support — the U.S. has provided Israel $260 billion in economic and military funding. In 2022, the U.S. provided Israel with $3.2 billion in aid, and Congress and President Joe Biden have backed sending an additional $14.3 billion to Israel this year on top of the over $3 billion officials have already committed for 2023.
So far this year, Axios found that the U.S. has provided Israel with at least 16 types of weapons. Experts have said that American weapons are likely being used “extensively” by Israeli forces against Palestinians in Gaza, while former State Department official Josh Paul, who specialized in arms transfers, has said that the U.S. “has provided much of the bombs, shells and ammunition causing these deaths.”
Officials have been keeping the exact types and amounts of weapons transferred to Israel in recent weeks secret, even as the United States has been speeding up its arms deals with Israeli forces. According to a leaked Department of Defense list obtained by Bloomberg, some of the weapons sent to Israel include bunker buster munitions, new army vehicles, 155 mm shells and laser guided missiles, including 2,000 Lockheed Martin Hellfire missiles.
Meanwhile, the Biden administration has been full-throated in its support of Israel. As The Intercept recently reported, the White House has moved to permanently remove a number of crucial safeguards to its weapons supply to Israel. Officials have also requested for arms transfers to the country to be able to be done in secrecy, without oversight from Congress or the American public.
Israel has one of the world’s most powerful militaries, due in large part to U.S. aid. Partly because of U.S. officials’ and media’s tendency to repeat Israeli propaganda no matter its veracity, and partly because of the U.S.’s outsized role in Israel’s military capabilities, advocates for Palestinian liberation have said that the U.S. bears direct responsibility for the genocide in Gaza, in which over 15,000 Palestinians have been killed so far.
As a result, human rights groups and anti-Zionist advocates say that the U.S. and Biden have unique leverage to demand a ceasefire and an end to the horror in Gaza.
“Through its ‘iron-clad’ commitment to Israel’s security, the U.S. has a broad set of levers over Israeli defense policymaking. It’s also in a position to offer incentives for a cease-fire,” Paul recently wrote in an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times. Paul listed a number of moves that U.S. officials could take, including placing limits on Israel’s ability to draw from U.S. weapons reserves, applying conditions on aid to bar human rights offenses, and strongly endorsing calls for ceasefire.
“Any of these routes would require something that has been in short supply in Washington recently — political courage,” Paul wrote.