Israel is in violation of U.S. arms-control laws
for deploying U.S.-made fighter planes, combat helicopters, and missiles to
kill civilians and destroy Lebanon's infrastructure in the ongoing six-day devastation
of that militarily weak country.
The death toll, according to published reports, is over 200 people mostly
civilians while the economic losses have been estimated at about $100
million per day.
"Section 4 of the [U.S.] Arms Export Control Act requires that military
items transferred to foreign governments by the United States be used solely
for internal security and legitimate self-defense," says Stephen Zunes,
professor of politics at the University of San Francisco.
"Since Israeli attacks against Lebanon's civilian infrastructure and population
centers clearly go beyond legitimate self-defense, the United States is legally
obliged to suspend arms transfers to Israel," Zunes told IPS.
Frida Berrigan, a senior research associate with the Arms Trade Resource Center
at the World Policy Institute in New York, is equally outraged at the misuse
by Israel of U.S.-supplied weapons.
"As Israel jets bombard locations in Gaza, Haifa, and Beirut, killing
civilians (including as many as seven Canadians vacationing in Aitaroun), it
is worth remembering that U.S. law is clear about how U.S.-origin weapons and
military systems ought to be used," Berrigan told IPS.
She pointed out that the U.S. Arms Export Control Act clear states that U.S.
origin weapons should not be used for "non-defensive purposes."
"In light of this clear statement, the United States has an opportunity
to stave off further bloodshed and suffering by demanding that its weaponry
and military aid not be used in attacks against Lebanon and elsewhere, and challenging
Israeli assertions that it is using military force defensively," she added.
That would demonstrate the kind of "utmost restraint" that world
leaders called for at the G8 Summit of the world's most industrialized nations,
which just ended in St. Petersburg, Russia.
The 25-member European Union has said that Israel's military retaliation against
Lebanon is "grossly disproportionate" to the kidnapping of two Israeli
soldiers last week by the Islamic militant group Hezbollah, which is a coalition
partner of the U.S.-supported government in Beirut.
Israel has accused both Syria and Iran of providing rockets and missiles to
Hezbollah, which has used these weapons to hit mostly civilian targets inside
Israel's prodigious military power currently unleashed on a virtually
defenseless Lebanon is sourced primarily to the United States.
Armed mostly with state-of-the-art U.S.-supplied fighter planes and combat
helicopters, the Israeli military is capable of matching a combination of all
or most of the armies in most Middle Eastern countries, including Iran, Syria,
Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia.
The air force has continued to devastate Beirut and its suburbs with no resistance
in the skies during six days of incessant bombings, causing civilian deaths
and infrastructure destruction.
"The Israeli Air Force now flies only U.S.-origin fighters, a mix of F-15s
and F-16s, and the rest of the service's fleet is almost completely of U.S.
origin," says Tom Baranauskas, a senior Middle East analyst at Forecast
International, a leading provider of defense market intelligence services in
the United States.
While in earlier years Israel bought from a variety of arms suppliers, with
the French in particular being strong sellers to Israel of such items as Mirage
fighters, over the past couple of decades the United States has developed into
Israel's preponderant arms supplier, he added.
"The U.S. domination as Israel's arms supplier can be seen in the Congressional
Research Service's [CRS] annual study of arms sales," Baranauskas told
He said the latest CRS survey shows a total of $8.4 billion of arms deliveries
to Israel in the 1997-2004 period, with fully $7.1 billion or 84.5 percent coming
from a single source: the United States.
A major factor in this trend was the rise in U.S. foreign military financing
(FMF) outright U.S. grants to Israel which now totals about $2.3
billion a year paid for by U.S. taxpayers.
By U.S. law, Baranauskas said, 74 percent of FMF assistance to Israel must
be spent on U.S. military products. This U.S. assistance has now become the
main source of financing for Israel's major arms procurements, especially its
From a historical perspective, he said, U.S. assistance to Israel during 1950-2005
has been staggeringly high: FMF amounting to $59.5 billion; $27 billion in foreign
military sales (FMS) mostly government-to-government arms transactions; and
$8 billion in commercial arms sales by the private sector.
Berrigan of the Arms Trade Resource Center said the United States is undoubtedly
the primary supplier of Israeli firepower.
In the interest of strengthening Israel's security and maintaining the country's
"qualitative military edge" over neighboring militaries, the U.S.
Congress provides Israel with annual FMF grants that represent about 23 percent
of its overall defense budget. Israel's 2006 military budget is estimated at
According to the Congressional Research Service, FMF levels are expected to
increase incrementally by $60 million a year to a level of $2.4 billion by 2008
compared with $2.2 billion in 2005.
"Israel has been the largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid every year
since 1976," Berrigan said.
Additionally, the United States provides Israel with billions of dollars worth
She pointed out that recent military sales to Israel include propulsion systems
for fast patrol boats worth more than $15 million from MTU Detroit Diesel; an
$8 million contract to Lockheed Martin for high-tech infrared "navigation
and targeting" capabilities for Israeli jets; and a $145 million deal with
Oshkosh Truck Corp. to build more than 900 armor kits for Israeli medium tactical
In December of last year, Lockheed Martin was awarded a $29.8 million contract
to provide spares part for Israel's F-16 fighter planes.
Berrigan also said that Israel has one of the world's largest fleets of F-16
fighter planes, made in Fort Worth, Texas, and also in Israel by Lockheed Martin
Israel has a total of over 378 F-16s, considered one of the world's most advanced
fighter planes besides 117 F-15s, 94 Skyhawks, 110 Phantoms all supplied
by the United States.
(Inter Press Service)