US Democrats back sale of billions worth of jets to Israel

Israel is on its way to receive fifty F-15 jet fighters worth billons of dollars from the US [GETTY]

US lawmakers have signed off a major deal providing billions of dollars worth of fighter jets to Israel, despite increasing concerns about the use of US-made weapons in Israel’s offensive on Gaza, amid accusations of war crimes, and genocide.

The sale of 50 F-15 fighter jets was signed off by two members of the Democratic Party, who reportedly facing pressure from pro-Israel lobbyists and from the Biden administration.

US newspaper The Washington Post first reported the approval of the arms sale on Monday and it followed reports in Israeli and German press that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu badgered a top US diplomat to remove any unofficial restrictions which had been placed on weapons transfers to Israel.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Netanyahu last week during a trip to the region and reportedly told him that Washington would soon remove all restrictions on weapons transfers to Israel.

The prime minister was allegedly irked that the levels of US military aid had decreased since the start of the war in October when the US rapidly bolstered Israeli supplies in the wake of the 7 October Hamas attack.

Israel’s indiscriminate war on Gaza has seen more than 37,300 Palestinians killed, most of them women and children, and by supplying weapons, the US could be at risk of breaching international law due to complicity in potential Israeli war crimes.

An independent UN investigation published last week found that Israel had committed war crimes in Gaza, including that of “extermination” and violations of international humanitarian law (IHL) and international human rights law.

The report noted “a widespread or systematic attack directed against the civilian population in Gaza”.

The Washington Post report noted that the F-15 sale would not arrive in Israel for years. Other weaponry, including air-to-air missiles and ‘Joint Direct Attack Munition Kits’, are also part of a deal.

However, the deal still needs to be approved by the US State Department who would notify the Congress, according to the report.

Citing anonymous US officials, the report said that Senator Ben Cardin and Gregory W Meeks signed off on the transaction who both serve on government foreign affairs committees and can “effectively veto a foreign military sale”.

The F-15 fighter jets are considered a superior aircraft and the deal is worth more than $18 billion and would be one of the most expensive arms sales to Israel since the Gaza war began, according to the Washington Post.

In May, the US paused an ammunition shipment consisting of 3,500 bombs destined for the Israeli military  over concerns about civilian lives in Rafah which Israel had recently invaded, in what seemed like the most open display of disagreement between the two allies.

US President Joe Biden  had earlier warned Israel that the sale could be delayed if it went ahead with a “major offensive” into Rafah.

After Israel invaded the city in May, despite global outcry and concern for the safety of the civilians, Washington shifted its rhetoric to say that Israel was allowed to conduct a “limited” operation in the area.

Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were forced to flee the area in less than 24 hours after Israel shifted its offensive to Rafah and the southern Gaza Strip, previously deemed a “safe zone”, following months of attacks on the north of the devastated enclave.

Just weeks later in mid-May, the Biden administration told lawmakers that it was sending $1 billion in arms and ammunition to Israel, including tank ammunition, tactical vehicles, and mortar rounds.

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