Israel Violates Law on U.S. Weapons in Mideast
UNITED NATIONS, Jul 17 (IPS) - 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 Lebanonīs 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
dollars 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-defence," says Stephen Zunes, professor of
politics at the University of San Francisco.
"Since Israeli attacks against Lebanonīs civilian infrastructure and population
centres clearly go beyond legitimate self-defence, 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 Centre
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 worldīs most industrialised nations, which just
ended in St. Petersburg, Russia.
The 25-member European Union has said that Israelīs 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
Israelīs prodigious military power -- currently unleashed on a virtually
defenceless 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 serviceīs fleet is almost completely of U.S. origin,"
says Tom Baranauskas, a senior Middle East analyst at Forecast International, a
leading provider of defence 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
Israelīs preponderant arms supplier, he added.
"The U.S. domination as Israelīs arms supplier can be seen in the Congressional
Research Serviceīs (CRS) annual study of arms sales," Baranauskas told IPS.
He said the latest CRS survey shows a total of 8.4 billion dollars of arms
deliveries to Israel in the 1997-2004 period, with fully 7.1 billion dollars 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
dollars 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 Israelīs major arms procurements, especially its fighter
>From a historical perspective, he said, U.S. assistance to Israel during 1950-2005 has been staggeringly high: Foreign Military Financing (FMF) amounting to 59.5 billion dollars; 27 billion dollars in Foreign Military Sales (FMS) mostly government-to-government arms transactions; and eight billion dollars in commercial arms sales by the private sector.
Berrigan of the Arms Trade Resource Centre said the United States is undoubtedly
the primary supplier of Israeli firepower.
In the interest of strengthening Israelīs security and maintaining the countryīs
"qualitative military edge" over neighbouring militaries, the U.S. Congress
provides Israel with annual FMF grants that represent about 23 percent of its
overall defence budget. Israelīs 2006 military budget is estimated at 7.4
According to the Congressional Research Service, FMF levels are expected to
increase incrementally by 60 million dollars a year to a level of 2.4 billion
dollars by 2008 compared with 2.2 billion dollars 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 dollars from MTU Detroit
Diesel; an eight-million-dollar contract to Lockheed Martin for high-tech
infrared "navigation and targeting" capabilities for Israeli jets; and a
145-million-dollar deal with Oshkosh Truck Corp to build more than 900 armour
kits for Israeli Medium Tactical Vehicles.
In December of last year, Lockheed Martin was awarded a 29.8-million-dollar
contract to provide spares part for Israelīs F-16 fighter planes.
Berrigan also said that Israel has one of the worldīs 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 worldīs most
advanced fighter planes -- besides 117 F-15s, 94 Skyhawks, 110 Phantoms -- all
supplied by the United States. (END/2006)