Complicit in genocide: Where Israel gets its weapons from

Dr Ramzy Baroud

Over 9,000 Palestinian women have been killed since the start of Israel’s war against the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Mothers have been the largest civilian population group killed by the occupation state, at an average of 37 per day since 7 October.

These statistics, from the Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza and the Red Crescent Society respectively, only convey part of the suffering experienced by 2.3 million Palestinians in the Strip. There is not a single section of Palestinian society that has not paid a heavy price in the war, although women and children have borne the brunt of it, constituting over 70 per cent of all victims of the ongoing Israeli genocide.

While these women and their children have been killed at the hands of Israeli soldiers, it is true to say that they were murdered using weapons supplied by the US and Israel’s other Western allies. Now, however, we are told that the world is finally turning against Israel.

The West’s nod of approval to Tel Aviv to carry on with its daily massacres may soon turn into a collective snub.

This claim was expressed best by the 23 March cover of the Economist magazine. It showed a tattered Israeli flag, attached to a stick, and planted in an arid, dusty land. It was accompanied by the headline “Israel Alone”.

The image, undoubtedly expressive, was meant to serve as a sign of the times. Its profundity becomes even more obvious if compared with another cover from the same publication soon after the Israeli military conquered Arab territories in the war of June 1967, known to Palestinians as the Naksa. “They did it,” trumpeted the headline back then. In the background stood an Israeli tank to illustrate the West-funded triumph.

Between the two headlines much in the world and in the Middle East has changed. To claim that Israel now stands alone, though, is not entirely accurate, at least not yet.

Although many of Israel’s traditional allies in the West are now openly disowning its behaviour in Gaza, weapons from various Western and non-Western countries continue to flow, feeding the war machine as it, in turn, continues to harvest more Palestinian lives. This compels us to ask if Israel really does stand alone when its airports and seaports are busier than ever receiving massive shipments of weapons from all corners of the globe. The answer is simple: not in the least.

Almost every time a Western country announces that it has suspended arms exports to Israel, a news headline appears shortly afterwards indicating the opposite. This has happened repeatedly.

Last year, for example, Italy declared that it was blocking all arms sales to Israel, giving false hope that some Western countries were finally experiencing some kind of moral awakening. Alas, on 14 March, Reuters quoted Italian Defence Minister Guido Crosetto as saying that shipments of weapons to Israel are continuing, based on the flimsy logic that previously-signed deals would have to be “honoured”.

Another country that is also “honouring” its previous commitments is Canada, which announced on 19 March that, following a parliamentary motion, it had suspended arms exports to Israel. The celebrations of those advocating an end to the genocide in Gaza were just getting started when, a day later, Ottawa reversed the decision by announcing that it too will honour its commitments.

This demonstrates that some Western countries continue to preach to the rest of us with their unsolicited wisdom about human rights, women’s rights and democracy, but actually have no genuine respect for any of these values.

Canada and Italy are not the largest military supporters of Israel, however; the US and Germany are. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, in the decade between 2013 and 2022, Israel received 68 per cent of its weapons from the US and 28 per cent from Germany.

The Germans remain unperturbed, even though five per cent of the total population of Gaza have been killed, wounded or are missing due to the Israeli war.

Yet, the American support for Israel is far greater, although the Biden administration is still sending messages to its constituency, the majority of whom want the war to stop, that the US president is doing his best to put pressure on Israel to end it.

Although only two approved military sales to Israel have been announced publicly since 7 October, the two shipments represent just two per cent of the total US arms sent to Israel. This was revealed by the Washington Post on 6 March at a time when US media reported a widening rift between US President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“That’s an extraordinary number of sales over the course of a pretty short amount of time,” a former senior Biden administration official told the Post. Jeremy Konyndyk reached the obvious conclusion that the “Israeli campaign would not be sustainable without this level of US support.”

For decades, US military support for Israel has been the highest of any in the world. As from 2016, this unconditional support increased exponentially during the Obama Administration to amount to $3.8 billion per year.

Immediately after 7 October, however, the weapons shipments to Israel reached unprecedented levels. They included 2,000-pound bombs known as 5,000 MK-84 munitions. Israel has used these bombs to kill hundreds of innocent Palestinians.

Washington claims frequently to be looking into Israel’s use of US weapons. According to the Washington Post, though, Biden knew too well that, “Israel was regularly bombing buildings without solid intelligence that they were legitimate military targets.”

In some ways, Israel does “stand alone”, but only because its behaviour is rejected by most countries and peoples around the world. However, it is hardly alone when its war crimes are being executed with Western arms and support.

For the Israeli offensive in Gaza to end, therefore, those who continue to sustain the ongoing bloodbath must end their supply of arms and ammunition. Then Israel must be held to account for its crimes, as must all of the arms suppliers, for they are complicit in genocide.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.