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US Set To Approve $18B Sale Of F-15 Fighter Jets To Israel: Report

02.04.2024 02:27

Biden administration informally notifies Congress on sale of fighter jets, munitions to Israel despite expressing concern over civilian death toll.

The US is considering approving the sale of up to 50 new F-15 fighter jets and munitions to Israel in a deal expected to be worth at least $18 billion, despite expressing concern over the high civilian death toll in Gaza, reports said Monday.

The sale package includes up to 50 new F-15 fighter jets, 30 AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missiles and a number of Joint Direct Attack Munition kits which turn dumb bombs into precision-guided weapons, Politico reported, citing a congressional aide and a person familiar with the discussions.

The sale needs US government approval and it will take for years for the weapons to arrive in Israel. However, the administration has already informally notified the relevant congressional committees, the report said, citing congressional sources, which shows they are ready to move forward with the sale.

The administration is also expected to notify Congress soon about the new sale of precision-guided munitions kits to Israel, according to CNN.

Asked about the reports, a State Department spokesperson told Anadolu they are not able to confirm potential or pending US arms transfers before they are formally notified to Congress.

"In accordance with the Arms Export Control Act, fulfilling an authorization from one notification to Congress can result in dozens of individual FMS cases across the decades-long life-cycle of the Congressional Notification," the spokesperson said.

"As a matter of practicality, major procurements, like Israel's F-35 program for example, are often broken out into several cases over many years," the spokesperson added.

The US is facing a barrage of criticism for providing military assistance to Israel amid reports of its targeting civilians – with over 32,800 Palestinians, mostly women and children, killed in Gaza – and credible reports of violations of international law and US law, including the blocking of aid provided by the US.

The reports of the new weapons sale to Israel come over the demands of a growing number of President Joe Biden's fellow Democrats who have urged him to condition any additional provision of arms to Israel on its military conduct and removing obstructions to the provision of international humanitarian assistance.

Last month, a half-dozen Democratic senators sent a letter to Biden urging him to halt arms sales to Israel because it is currently in violation of a 1961 law that prohibits arms sales to nations that obstruct the delivery of American aid.

"The United States should not provide military assistance to any country that interferes with US humanitarian assistance," senators Bernie Sanders, Chris Van Hollen, Jeff Merkley, Mazie Hirono, Peter Welch, Tina Smith, Elizabeth Warren and Ben Ray Lujan wrote.

"Federal law is clear, and, given the urgency of the crisis in Gaza and the repeated refusal of Prime Minister (Benjamin) Netanyahu to address US concerns on this issue, immediate action is necessary to secure a change in policy by his government," they added.

A Feb. 8 memorandum signed by Biden requires countries that receive US military assistance to give Washington "credible and reliable written assurances" that the arms will be used in compliance with "international human rights law and international humanitarian law."

Israel submitted written assurances to the State Department last month, but human rights groups say Israel's assurances to the US government are not credible, urging the government to suspend arms transfers to Israel.

Human Rights Watch and Oxfam submitted a report to the Biden administration last month listing a wide range of Israeli violations of international humanitarian law since last Oct. 7, including the use of US-supplied white phosphorus in military operations in Lebanon and Gaza, disproportionate strikes on or near several major hospitals and an ambulance, and the systematic blocking of US-funded assistance.

Israel has waged a deadly military offensive on the Gaza Strip since an Oct. 7 cross-border attack by the Palestinian group Hamas which killed some 1,200 people.

At least 32,845 Palestinians have since been killed and nearly 75,400 others injured amid mass destruction and shortages of necessities. Israel has imposed a crippling blockade on the Gaza Strip, leaving its population, particularly residents of northern Gaza, on the verge of starvation.

The Israeli war has pushed 85% of Gaza's population into internal displacement amid acute shortages of food, clean water, and medicine, while 60% of the enclave's infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed, according to the UN. -



 
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