U.S. commits war crimes in Gaza

While spokespersons for the U.S. government cynically condemned the July 29 Israeli shelling of a United Nations school in Gaza that was being used to shelter 3,300 civilians, the Pentagon opened up the doors to a U.S. secret cache of weapons and ammunition to Israel to resupply its dwindling stock. The shelling killed at least 16 Palestinians, including many children.

The Israeli website Yedioth Ahronoth revealed that the U.S. keeps more than $1 billion worth of weapons in Israel “intended for the use of the U.S. military in an emergency.” The weapons given to Israel to continue Operation Protective Edge, its murderous Gaza campaign, include 120 mm mortar launchers, 40 mm bomb launchers, and detonators, grenades and ammunition. (middleeastmonitor.com, July 31)

This is only a tiny fraction of the military aid given or sold to Israel by the U.S. government and the arms industry and used by the Israel Defense Forces in Gaza. In 2013, the U.S. sent at least $196 million in parts for airplanes and helicopters, including F-16 fighter jets and “Apache” ­helicopters used to bomb and strafe Gazan homes and offices. More than $92 million has been supplied in 2014. (truth-out.org, July 23)

The U.S. has shipped $39 million in armored fighting vehicles in 2014, including M109 Doher Howitzers, which Israel is using to shell targets in Gaza. The U.S. has also shipped more than $9 million in ammunition cartridges.

The U.S. State Department approved a $544 million sale to Israel of AIM-9x Sidewinder missiles, which can be mounted on the F-16 fighter jets to hit ground targets.

Official U.S. military aid to Israel amounts to $3 billion a year, not including $504 million for missile defense. Unofficially, the aid is much more, and includes training, repairs, spare parts, research and development.

Israel is the only state allowed to use U.S. weapons designs to develop its own weapons industry. There are also many joint projects between Israel and the U.S. military. And Israel has “fast track” status, meaning that it can make deals directly with U.S. arms dealers without going through the Pentagon.

A truth-out.org reporter asked Richard Falk, a former U.N. special rapporteur on Palestinian human rights, what he thought about the U.S. military aid to Israel enabling this attack on Gaza. He pointed out that U.S. exports to Israel violate the Arms Control Act of 1976.

“There’s no legal, political or moral argument that would uphold the claim that Israel is acting in legitimate self-defense,” Falk said. “Gaza, from an international law point of view, is not a foreign state, but an occupied territory. It’s not clear that you can exercise self-defense in relation to a territory that you are responsible for administering in accordance with international humanitarian law.” (July 25)

Amnesty International has called on the U.S. to immediately stop arms shipments to Israel amid “growing evidence of war crimes in Gaza.” (amnesty.org, July 31)

The U.N. human rights high commissioner, Navi Pillay, also criticized the U.S.: “They have not only provided the heavy weaponry which is now being used by Israel in Gaza, but they’ve also provided almost $1 billion in providing the Iron Domes to protect Israelis from the rocket attacks, but no such protection has been provided to Gazans against the shelling. So I am reminding United States that it’s a party to international humanitarian law and human rights law.” (democracynow.org, Aug. 1)

By arming Israel to the teeth and stockpiling weapons in Israel for its own use, the Pentagon, the U.S. government and the entire imperialist establishment show that they care nothing about human rights. Their only concern is controlling the vast oil wealth of the Middle East. By backing every Israeli atrocity in Gaza, they intend to let nothing stand in their way of retaining an iron grip over the entire region. n