U.S. Weapons Used in Gaza: Israel Gets a Hefty Chunk of Military Aid from the US

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While news reports on the current war in Gaza regularly refer to Iran as the supplier of Hamas weapons, especially rockets being fired into southern Israel, few note that the United States is far and away a more significant supplier of arms and military technology to Israel.

As bombers streak across the Gaza strip and tanks and armored personnel carriers rumble deeper into urban territory, it is increasingly difficult to escape the fact that Israel is only capable of such sophisticated warfare because for decades it has been the major recipient of military aid from the United States.

While that fact may make little impression on the average U.S. voter, it is well known in Israel's neighborhood, particularly among Arab states eager to vilify the United States as complicit in the suffering of Palestinians. At the same time, unqualified U.S. support for the latest military initiative, especially in light of the degree of violence being inflicted on Gazans, can have serious implications for the future of peace between Israel and the Palestinians as well as between Israel and the rest of the Arab world, say experts.

According to a recent report, "U.S. Weapons at War," by the New America Foundation, Israel has been the major recipient of U.S. security assistance since the early 1970s and received an average of $2.7 billion a year in security assistance funding during the years of the Bush administration.

As late as 2005, the amount of U.S. military aid to Israel and Egypt alone represented a third of all U.S. foreign aid.

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Aid to Israel is scheduled to increase to as much as $3 billion a year beginning with the 2010 budget, to be introduced in February. If the projections remain unchanged, Israel will receive that amount for the next 10 years.

"I think most people in the region and probably around the world think that we bear some responsibility for this," said William Hartung, director of the arms and security initiative at the New America Foundation, speaking of the military assault underway in Gaza. "The bulk of the equipment is provided by the United States and paid for by U.S. taxpayers."

According to the report, the United States supplies everything from F-16 and F-15 combat aircraft to M-1 tanks, attack helicopters and bombs and ammunition. The United States also supplies cluster bombs, which were used by Israel during its war with Lebanon during the summer of 2006. Cluster bombs are weapons that spread small "bomblets" over wide areas and often continue causing severe injuries and death long after hostilities have ended. Much of the rest of the world has signed agreements banning such weapons. …