Inter Press Service, January 8, 2009 - The devastating Israeli firepower, unleashed largely on Palestinian civilians in Gaza during two weeks of fighting, is the product of advanced U.S. military technology.
The U.S. weapons systems used by the Israelis -- including F-16 fighter planes, Apache helicopters, tactical missiles and a wide array of munitions -- have been provided by Washington mostly as outright military grants.
The administration of President George W. Bush alone has provided over 21 billion dollars in U.S. security assistance over the last eight years, including 19 billion dollars in direct military aid as freebies.
"Israel's intervention in the Gaza Strip has been fueled largely by U.S. supplied weapons paid for with U.S. tax dollars," says a background briefing released Thursday by the Arms and Security Initiative of the New York-based New America Foundation.
"The Bush administration has been unwilling to use its considerable influence -- as Israel's major military and political backer -- to dissuade the government in Tel Aviv from its pattern of claiming self-defence while perpetrating collective punishment, human rights violations and undertaking massively disproportionate attacks that harm and kill civilians," Frida Berrigan, senior programme associate at the New America Foundation, told IPS.
Besides military aid, the United States has contracted more than 22 billion dollars in arms sales to Israel in 2008 alone, including a proposed deal for 75 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, nine C-130J-30 military transport aircraft and four combat ships.
"So, when Israeli forces engage in combat in Gaza or the West Bank, they are more often than not using U.S.-designed systems that were either made in the United States or produced under licence in Israel," says the New America Foundation.
The two-week military onslaught has resulted in the deaths of over 700 Palestinians, including more than 300 civilians, mostly victims of U.S. weaponry.
In comparison, the Israeli death toll is about seven soldiers and four civilians, primarily due to "friendly fire", or victims of rocket attacks by Hamas.