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May 15, 2024, 7:10am EDT
Middle East
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US reportedly plans to send additional $1B in arms to Israel

Insights from the Council on Foreign Relations, Al Jazeera, Just Security, and the Associated Press

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An Israeli soldier cleans a weapon, near the Israel-Gaza border, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in Israel, May 2, 2024. REUTERS/Amir Cohen
Amir Cohen/Reuters
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The News

The US is planning to send more than $1 billion in additional arms and ammunition to Israel, congressional aides told the Associated Press, in what would be the first shipment to the country since Washington paused another transfer over concerns for civilian casualties in Gaza.

The package is expected to include $700 million for tank ammunition, $500 million in tactical vehicles, and $60 million in mortar rounds, the aides said. It is unclear when the arms would be delivered.

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Israel enjoys special status among US allies

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Source:  
The Council on Foreign Relations

While the US and Israel do not have a formal defense agreement, Washington sees the country as one of a short list of “non-NATO allies,” the Council of Foreign Relations noted. As a result, Israel has access to Washington’s extensive defense technology. Adjusted for inflation, Israel has received about $300 billion in aid from the US since its founding in 1948, and it is the largest recipient of American foreign aid. Transfers to the country are subject to US and international law. But critics argue that Washington has not applied its Leahy law, which bars it from transferring weapons to countries committing human rights violations, to Israel as it has with other Middle Eastern nations, CfR wrote.

Analysts argue Israel not held to same standard

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Sources:  
Al Jazeera, Just Security

Israel has repeatedly been accused of human rights violations in Gaza. “Most assistance to Israel has historically not been subject to vetting due to a longstanding loophole,” Just Security noted in November, “which allowed assistance to be provided without unit vetting if the State Department determined it could not identify the end-user unit at the time of transfer.” That, the authors argued, is the case with the majority of weapons transfers to Israeli units. Last week, the Biden administration temporarily paused transfers to Israel following concerns about a ground campaign in the crowded southern Gazan city of Rafah.

US probe found Israel may have misused previous arms shipments

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Source:  
The Associated Press

Last Friday, the Biden administration announced that an investigation into Israel’s use of US-supplied weapons found Israel had likely violated international law that protects civilians. But Washington could not find direct evidence about specific US weapons that were used in the war that “could give the administration leeway in any future decision on whether to restrict provisions of offensive weapons to Israel,” the Associated Press reported. Critics have argued the administration is “glossing over” rights violations by Israel, but the US said the country has recently taken positive steps to address civilian access to aid.

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