UNITED NATIONS, Dec 11 (IPS) – As the civilian death toll in Gaza continues to rise to unprecedented heights —reaching over 17,000 since October 7, with more than 46,000 injured – one of the most distressing reports to come out of the war zone is the use of excessively heavy weaponry by Israel.
The Hamas attack on October 7, which killed 1,200 inside Israel, has resulted in a disproportionate number of Palestinians killed so far—and rising.
In a report last month—comparing Israeli bombings with US attacks in Middle East conflicts—the New York Times pointed out that the aerial bombs used by American forces against the Islamic State (ISIS) in urban areas in Mosul, Iraq and Raqqa, Syria were 500-pound weapons.
But, in contrast, “Israel’s liberal use of very large weapons in dense urban areas” included American-made 2,000-pound bombs that flattened buildings, houses and an apartment tower in Gaza while killing thousands of Palestinians.
“It’s beyond anything that I’ve seen in my career” Marc Garlasco, a former intelligence analyst at the Pentagon, was quoted as saying.
Which triggers two questions: would Israel have survived without the $130 billion in weapons and military assistance provided by the US since Israel’s creation in 1948. And should Israel be charged with war crimes, along with US, the primary arms supplier to Israel?
But both scenarios are not likely to happen. Any such attempts in the Security Council—either against the US or Israel will be vetoed by the Americans—as it happened last week on a resolution for cease-fire in Gaza.
The resolution suffered a US veto (even though it had the support of 13 of the 15 members in the Security Council, with one abstention by UK.
According to a December 1 report in the Wall Street Journal, the U.S. last week provided Israel with additional 2,000-Pound bombs for the Gaza War.
The U.S. has provided Israel with large bunker buster bombs, among tens of thousands of other weapons and artillery shells, to help dislodge Hamas from Gaza, U.S. officials were quoted as saying.
The surge of arms, including roughly 15,000 bombs and 57,000 artillery shells, began shortly after the Oct. 7 attack and has continued in recent days, the officials said. The U.S. hasn’t previously disclosed the total number of weapons it sent to Israel nor the transfer of 100 BLU-109, 2,000-pound bunker buster bombs.
After sending massive bombs, artillery shells, U.S. also urged Israel to limit civilian casualties: a warning ignored by Israel.
According to Wikipedia, the Mark 84 or BLU-117 is a 2,000 pounds (907 kg) American general-purpose bomb. It is the largest of the Mark 80 series of weapons. Entering service during the Vietnam War, it became a commonly used US heavy unguided bomb (due to the amount of high-explosive content packed inside) to be dropped.
Norman Solomon, Executive Director, Institute for Public Accuracy and National Director, RootsAction.org, told IPS military aid from the U.S. government has been essential for Israel to maintain itself as an expansionist country during the last several decades.
“That assistance has enabled Israel to systematically crush the human rights of Palestinian people while continuing to violate international law with occupations of Gaza and the West Bank. Israel has used its military might to, in effect, sadistically turn Gaza’s residents into abused prisoners,” he said.
He pointed out that much of the strength of the Israeli armed forces has been due to Washington’s extraordinary quantities of support with military aid. Recent events have underscored how the U.S. government is willing to step up military assistance with massive amounts of weaponry and other war material while Israel continues to slaughter civilians in Gaza.
“The wanton and purposeful killings of more than 15,000 civilians during the last two months are war crimes that deserve unequivocal condemnation and prosecution. What’s more, the U.S. government is more than complicit – it is an accomplice in these crimes against humanity. The same standards that should emphatically condemn Hamas’ murders of civilians on October 7 should also emphatically condemn Israel’s murders of civilians since then,” said Solomon, author, “War Made Invisible: How America Hides the Human Toll of Its Military Machine.”
In recent days, a pair of developments involving the United States government have underscored its direct complicity in the ongoing mass murder by Israel in Gaza.
On December 8, the U.S. vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution for a ceasefire. The next day, the Biden administration disclosed that it is bypassing Congress to sell 13,000 rounds of tank ammunition to Israel. Overall, in Washington, bipartisan zeal is persisting to actively support the slaughter of Palestinian civilians in Gaza.
“Propaganda efforts to equate calls for a single standard of human decency with antisemitism are specious and demagogic”.
“Like a growing number of other Jewish Americans, I reject any and all efforts to equate Judaism with the state of Israel. The government of Israel continues to be engaged in large-scale war crimes, with the support of the U.S. government. They should be unequivocally denounced and opposed,” declared Solomon.
Dr Ramzy Baroud, author, a syndicated columnist, editor of Palestine Chronicle & a Senior Research Fellow at Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA), told IPS a long-term narrative has served to explain Washington’s relationship with Tel Aviv: that the former is the latter’s benefactor and main backer, whether financially, military or politically.
“The latest war on Gaza and the direct US involvement in this war are forcing us to rethink our perception of the US-Israeli relationship”, he said.
“If we list everything that Washington has done to help Israel in carrying out and sustain its ongoing genocide in Gaza, we would need many hours explaining the degree of US involvement”.
This includes the immediate blank check signed by Washington to justify any Israeli response to the October 7 operation, the dispatching of aircraft carriers, of hundreds of military airplanes, along with seemingly endless financial and other forms of support.
So, this is no longer about a certain, fixed amount of money that Washington sends to Tel Aviv. It is also about 2,000 pounds bombs with the full knowledge of how and when these bombs would be used, with intelligence information as to where these bombs would be dropped, and the full political backing in justifying the devastating outcome once the bombs are dropped, he argued.
“In other words, Washington is a direct partner in the Israeli war on Gaza. This realization shall have direct consequences, not only to US reputation in the Middle East, but in the short and even long-term US-Middle East strategies, including its military presence in Iraq, Syria, and elsewhere.”
Palestinians, and millions around them, understand that they are also fighting a war against the US. They are not wrong, he said.
Meanwhile, according to a breaking story in the New York Times last week, the US State Department is pushing through a government sale to Israel of 13,000 rounds of tank ammunition, bypassing a congressional review process that is generally required for arms sales to foreign nations.
The State Department notified congressional committees at 11 p.m. last Friday that it was moving ahead with the sale, valued at more than $106 million, even though Congress had not finished an informal review of a larger order from Israel for tank rounds.
The department invoked an emergency provision in the Arms Export Control Act, the State Department official and a congressional official told The New York Times. Both spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivities over the sales. The arms shipment has been put on an expedited track, and Congress has no power to stop it.
The Defense Department posted a notification of the sale before noon on Saturday. It said Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken had informed Congress on Friday that “an emergency exists that requires the immediate sale.”
It is the first time that the State Department had invoked the emergency provision for an arms shipment to the Middle East since May 2019, when Secretary of State Mike Pompeo approved weapons sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, a move that was criticized by lawmakers and some career officials inside the State Department, according to the Times.
The State Department has used the emergency provision at least two times since 2022 to rush arms to Ukraine for its defense against Russia’s invasion.
But in the case of the Israel-Gaza war, there has been growing condemnation in the United States and abroad of the way Israel is carrying out its offensive. The State Department’s decision to bypass Congress appeared to reflect an awareness of some Democratic lawmakers’ criticism of the Biden administration for supplying arms to Israel with no conditions or scrutiny, the Times said.
IPS UN Bureau Report
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