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Israel’s war on Gaza: How has the US extended military support to its biggest recipient?

February 26, 2024 at 1:48 pm

Campaigners stage action with Netanyahu riding a US missile ahead of Gaza ceasefire vote in UN Security Council on Tuesday, outside the UN Headquarters, Ralph Bunche Park in New York City, United States on February 20th, 2024. [Selçuk Acar – Anadolu Agency]

The ongoing Israeli war on Gaza has, once again, brought attention to the substantial military support provided by the US to Israel, fuelling controversy and raising humanitarian concerns, Anadolu Agency reports.

The self-immolation of a 25-year-old US Air Force member outside the Israeli Embassy in Washington, who shouted that he “will no longer be complicit in genocide”, before setting himself ablaze, has brought to light the military aid and support that Israel has been receiving from its biggest ally.

Since 7 October, Israel has received immense support from the US, ranging from arms and ammunition to consultancy from top-level commanders.

Munitions and weapons

Since the conflict began, the US has sent to Israel thousands of military equipment, including ammunition, vehicles, armaments, personal protective equipment and medical supplies.

By December, the US had sent 230 cargo planes and 20 ships loaded with weapons and military equipment to Israel.

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A report by the Wall Street Journal in December said that munitions sent by the US to Israel comprise more than 5,400 MK84 bombs and 5,000 unguided MK82 bombs.

It also shares details of 1,000 GBU-39 small-diameter bombs, and some 3,000 joint direct attack munitions (JDAM).

Consisting of approximately 15,000 bombs and 57,000 artillery shells, the artillery had been sent through C-17 military cargo planes, according to the Wall Street Journal.

World leaders concentrate on supporting Israel while neglecting the needs of oppressed Palestinians
– Cartoon [Sabaaneh/Middle East Monitor]

Earlier this month, the US was reported by media outlets to be dispatching more bombs and other munitions to Israel.

The proposed armed delivery includes about 1,000 each of MK-82 500-pound (227-kilogram) bombs and KMU-572 Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAMs), which can turn unguided munitions into precision-guided bombs, Al Jazeera said citing the Wall Street Journal.

According to the report, the US is also considering sending FMU-139 bomb fuses, with the total shipment estimated to be worth tens of millions of dollars.

The US has provided roughly 21,000 precision-guided munitions to Israel since October, according to media reports.

Other types of munitions and weapons also include tens of thousands of 155mm artillery shells, thousands of bunker-buster munitions and 200 kamikaze drones.

Aerial support

The US and Israel have concluded a massive arms deal that includes the supply of F-35 and F-15 fighter  jets to Tel Aviv, the Hebrew Channel 12 recently reported.

The Channel cited officials from the Israeli Defence Ministry as saying that an agreement has been reached between the US and Israel in which the Israeli army will be supplied with drones and thousands of rounds of ammunition in the coming days.

According to the officials, the deal includes supplying the Israeli army with a large number of F-35 and F-15 fighter aircraft as well as Apache helicopters.

Israel will be the first country to receive the advanced F-35 aircraft manufactured by Boeing.

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Military aid

Since 1948, Israel has received $330 billion worth of aid from the US. It is the largest recipient of US foreign aid, with the primary focus being on defence and military assistance. Annually, Israel receives over $3 billion in defence aid.

Last week, the US Senate passed a $95 billion foreign aid bill, out of which $14 billion is allocated for Israel.

According to the Times of Israel, around $5.2 billion is targeted toward systems that deter missiles and other airborne threats, both long, and short-range.

Of this amount, $4 billion would be used to procure short-range anti-missile systems for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defence system and to fund the David’s Sling system, which intercepts mid-to-long-range missiles, said the newspaper.

Intelligence support

Defence Secretary, Lloyd Austin, has announced that the US is assisting Israel with intelligence and planning, and providing advice and consultations to its military.

According to a recent report by the Intercept, the US deployed its Air Force team to Israel to assist with targets, sending officers specialising in providing information and intelligence used to conduct airstrikes and fire long-range artillery weapons to Israel in late November.

In November, the US Air Force issued deployment guidelines for officers, including intelligence engagement officers, headed to Israel. Experts say that a team of targeting officers like this would be used to provide satellite intelligence to the Israelis for the purpose of offensive targeting, according to the Intercept.

Support in the Mediterranean

The US deployed aircraft and warships at its military bases in the Middle East, and ordered more warplanes to support its existing A-10, F-15 and F-16 squadrons at these bases.

In October, the Joe Biden administration sent the USS Gerald R. Ford carrier strike group and another warship to the Mediterranean Sea. Each of these carriers has more than 70 aircraft on board, with considerable firepower.

In December, there were 19 US warships in the region, with 7 in the Eastern Mediterranean and 12 others in the Red Sea, Arabian Sea and the Persian Gulf.

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