Monday, June 7, 2010

Our tax dollars got a real workout last week--so why is the military aid check still so fat?

Just to state the obvious--this past week has put U.S. complicity in war crimes and acts of aggression committed by the Israeli military on display once again. Just a few examples of how hard your tax money was working this past week to violate human rights: 1) The attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla killed 9 Turkish nationals, one of whom was a U.S. citizen of Turkish origin. (National staff of the US Campaign participated in a delegation to the Turkish Embassy in Washington, DC to express condolences for those who were killed in the attack).

The United States has provided the Israeli navy and air force with weapons through Foreign Military Financing (FMF) budget allocations that were, or may have been, used in this attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla. According to the Jerusalem Post, the Israel Air Force used three Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters to transport its commandos to the ships. The Israel Air Force is reported to have 49 of these combat helicopters.

In addition, the United States has transferred additional weapons to the Israeli Navy that may have been used in violation of the AECA during its attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla. In July 2008, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DCSA) notified Congress of a possible Foreign Military Sale (FMS) to Israel of four littoral combat ships (LCS-I variant), associated equipment, and services valued at up to $1.9 billion. The Israeli Navy is also reported to have three Sa’ar 5-class corvettes built in the United States. Press reports also indicate that Israel may have used U.S. guns, ammunition, night vision goggles, and crowd dispersal weapons in its attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla.

All of this has led Dr. Peter Bourne, a former Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations, to call on the U.S. State Department to investigate possible violations of the Arms Export Control Act in the flotilla attack.

2) Emily Henochowicz, a dual U.S. and Israeli citizen, was shot in the face while protesting the Gaza Freedom Flotilla massacre at the Qalandia Checkpoint in the West Bank. She has lost an eye and had to have facial reconstruction urgery performed in a Jerusalem hospital before returning home. The Obama Administration has demanded that Israel investigate the incident (because the Israeli military is so good at investigating itself...ugh).

The high-velocity tear-gas canister which injured Emily Henochowicz was likely of U.S. origin as well: in FY2007 alone, the US gave Israel 121,991 pieces of teargas and riot control agents valued at $1,654,536.

(The Steering Committee of the US Campaign has sent a letter to Emily expressing our support and "strongest solidarity...in this time of pain, recovery and healing.")

3) Meanwhile, Israeli military attacks on the Gaza Strip continued. Five Palestinians were killed a day after the flotilla massacre, and this morning the Israeli military killed four 150 yards off of the shore of the Gaza Strip. These killings, like the killings of nonviolent Palestinian activists such as Ahmad Dib and Basem Abu Rahme, received little attention in U.S. media.

That's a lot of (ugly) work for your tax money. But you've got to wonder--with a workout like that, why is the check still so fat? Find out more about U.S. military aid to Israel and how you can work to end it by clicking here.