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US approves F35 and 2,300 bombs for Israel despite the crisis in Gaza

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Amid escalating tensions and international scrutiny over Israel's military actions in Gaza, the United States has quietly authorized the transfer of billions of dollars in weapons and fighter jets to Israel. The move, revealed by Pentagon and State Department officials, comes despite concerns raised by Washington regarding an anticipated Israeli offensive in southern Gaza, potentially endangering Palestinian civilians.

The approved military package includes 1,800 units of MK-84 2,000 pound bombs, 500 MK-82 500 pound bombs, and 25 F-35 fighter jets. This marks the third batch of F-35s, bringing the total fleet size to 75. The package consists of over 2,300 bombs worth billions of dollars.

Source: The Mark 84 bomb, part of the Mark 80 series of weapons, holds the distinction of being the largest in its class. Initially deployed during the Vietnam War, it quickly gained popularity as a staple heavy unguided bomb.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant discussed Israel’s weapons needs with US counterparts this week, stressing the importance of US ties to his country’s security and the maintenance of Israel’s “qualitative military edge” in the region, including its air capabilities.

While the F-35s were part of a previously approved arms package, the authorization of additional bombs underscores the ongoing support for Israel's military capabilities. Sixteen percent of Israel's arms acquisitions in 2023 came from US corporations, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) annual study.

Source: Israeli Air Force members wait for F-35I Adirs to launch for a Red Flag-Nellis 23-2 mission at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., March 16, 2023 - Airman 1st Class Trevor Bell (USAF)
In November 2023, the United States delivered 15,000 munitions to Israel, comprising 5,000 Mk 82 bombs, 5,400 Mk 84 bombs, 1,000 GBU-39 bombs, 100 BLU-109 bombs, and 3,000 JDAMs.
Source: GBU-31 JDAM aerial bombs in the hangar bay of the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71)

Criticism of the US decision to continue military aid to Israel has mounted within the Biden administration. Democratic lawmakers have called for a reassessment of US military assistance, arguing that it should be contingent upon Israel's commitment to limiting civilian casualties and easing humanitarian aid restrictions in Gaza.

However, the Biden administration maintains its support for Israel's right to defend itself, emphasizing that conditioning aid has not been US policy. Despite acknowledging the concerns expressed by Arab Americans and others over the Gaza conflict, President Biden has reaffirmed continued support for Israel, further straining relations with the Netanyahu-led government.

Source: MK 82 bomb with a Snake Eye Tail Retarding Device

The timing of the arms transfer is notable, coming amidst strong international condemnation of Israel's military campaign in Gaza and its plans to expand operations into Rafah. While the US has urged Israel to consider limiting civilian casualties, it has not withheld military assistance, highlighting the complexities of the US-Israel relationship.

The decision to proceed with the arms transfer underscores the Biden administration's stance on maintaining close ties with Israel while navigating the complexities of the ongoing conflict. As calls for accountability and transparency grow within Congress, the US's role in facilitating the Israeli military's actions in Gaza continues to draw scrutiny and debate.

Despite the tensions and criticisms, the US-Israeli alliance remains a cornerstone of US foreign policy in the Middle East, with Washington reaffirming its commitment to Israel's security and defense needs. However, the authorization of additional weaponry raises questions about the effectiveness of US efforts to mitigate the impact of the conflict on Palestinian civilians and prospects for a lasting peace in the region.


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