The US Companies Arming Israel’s Attack on Gaza

December 5th, 2023 - by American Friends Service Committee: Action Center on Corporate Accountability


Isreal levels Gaza’s highrise apartments with bombs made in the USA.

The Firms Behind Israel’s 2023 Attack on Gaza
American Friends Service Committee:
Action Center on Corporate Accountability

(December 2023) — During October-November 2023, Israel has waged unprecedented aerial and ground attacks on the Gaza Strip, in retaliation for the October 7 attacks by Palestinians from Gaza on Israel. Palestinian civilians in Gaza have been killed at historic pace while Israel largely destroyed the entire northern part of the Gaza Strip. These attacks have been accompanied by a surge of Israeli violence against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and clashes of the Israeli military with armed groups in Lebanon.

Shortly after October 7, the US government initiated an aerial convoy to deliver to Israel munitions and weapon systems. Some of these weapons were purchased using US taxpayers’ money through the Foreign Military Sales program; some are direct commercial sales from Israel’s own budget; and some are replenishing US military stockpiles in Israel, which the Israeli military may also use. A list of known US arms transfers is maintained by the Forum on the Arms Trade. [See below — EAW]

The continued flow of weapons to the region fuels the continued Israeli attacks, which have included war crimes and other violations of international humanitarian law. We support a full suspension of all arms transfers to both Israeli and Palestinian militant groups. However, while the Israeli military is heavily supplied by the US, no Western government or corporation knowingly arms Palestinian militant groups.

Major Arms Sales (via FMS) Notification Tracker
Forum on the Arms Trade

With State Department blessing, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency notifies Congress of major arms sales under the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program, starting a clock (typically 30 days) during which Congress can block a sale by passing a resolution to do so in both the House and Senate.

While certain terms of agreements may change and deliveries (if any) take years to complete, these notifications serve as important public moments to understand and debate, where appropriate, future US arms transfers (equipment and services).

Biden’s Arms Sales and Transfers to Israel
Forum on the Arms Trade

This resource page details developments related to US arms sales to Israel under the Biden administration, beginning with a May 5, 2021, notification by the Biden administration to Congress of a possible direct commercial sale of $735 million in precision-guided weapons to Israel.

That became controversial as fighting in Israel intensified and the notification became more broadly public around May 17, 2021. In October 2023, as fighting erupted again, the Biden administration promised to rapidly deliver additional military assistance.

As explained in CRS reports, “In 2016, the US and Israeli governments signed their third 10-year Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on military aid, covering FY2019 to FY2028. Under the terms of the MOU, the United States pledged to provide—subject to congressional appropriation—$38 billion in military aid ($33 billion in Foreign Military Financing (FMF) grants plus $5 billion in missile defense appropriations) to Israel.”

Select Timeline — 2023
On November 18, Sen. Sanders called for conditioning aid to Israel.

On November 16, Rep. Ilhan Omar with four co-sponsors introduced a joint resolution of disapproval on the Spice assemblies sale (see press releasetracker).

On November 14, media reported (here or here) that 36,000 rounds of 30mm cannon ammunition, 1,800 of 3,000 requested M141 bunker-buster munitions, at least 3,500 of 5,000 night-vision devices, some Hellfire missiles and other weapons had been delivered from the United States and European Union.

On November 13, more than 30 organizations sent a letter calling for not transferring 155 mm shells to Israel, and media reported that a resolution of disapproval would be introduced on the Spice assemblies sale (see October 30).

On November 8, a majority of the Senate Democratic caucus sent a letter to the President supporting “defensive systems, including Iron Dome and other air defense capabilities” and asking for “specific mechanisms you are putting in place to ensure that Israeli military operations conducted inside Gaza are carried out in accordance with international humanitarian law and to ensure that any US-provided equipment is used in a manner consistent with US law.”

On November 4 and 5, the Pentagon announced that the Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group had arrived in the Middle East (Nov 4) and that an Ohio-class submarine had joined had joined Central Command/Fifth fleet (Nov 5). On the 5th, media outlets reported that Congress was raising concerns about an Israeli request for 24,000 assault rifles (see NYT, for example).

On October 30 (but not widely reported in media until November 6), Congress was notified of a potential $320 million sale of additional Spice Family Gliding Bomb Assemblies — see notification (obtained via media).

On October 24, the Defense Department announced that F-16s have been sent to the region, building on a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense battery and additional Patriot missile battalions announced over the previous weekend (see official news).

On October 23, a Defense Department official clarified in a background briefing “…what has been provided to Israel through Direct Commercial Sales Contracts. That includes Small Diameter Bombs, ammunition and JDAM Tail Kits.  As for 155 ammunition, what had happened prior to the October 7th Hamas terrorist attack, is some 155 had been withdrawn from the war reserve stockpile in Israel, to replenish US stocks in Europe.  Much of that has been redirected and provided to the Israel Defense Forces for their use.”

On October 20, President Biden requested supplemental funding, including “procurement of Iron Dome and David’s Sling missile defense systems and components, and development of Iron Beam” for Israel. See factsheet, as well as letter (particularly Attachment 2-Israel), with media widely reporting as consisting of $14 billion for Israel. The administration also waived Congressional notification requirements regarding Foreign Military Financing.

On October 19, Defense Department confirmed that in addition to Iron Dome, the United States had been providing “precision-guided munitions, such as joint direct attack munitions, small-diameter bombs, 155-millimeter artillery ammunition and other categories of critical equipment.” President Biden gave a national address from the Oval office in which he said he would be “asking Congress to do is an unprecedented commitment to Israel’s security that will sharpen Israel’s qualitative military edge, which we’ve committed to…”

On October 14, during a visit to Israel, President Biden said “later this week, I’m going to ask the United States Congress for an unprecedented support package for Israel’s defense. We are going to keep Iron Dome fully supplied so it can continue standing sentinel over Israeli skies, saving Israeli lives.”

On October 14, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin announced that he had directed the “USS Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group (CSG) to begin moving to the Eastern Mediterranean…” and that “Earlier in the week, the US Air Force announced deployment to the region of squadrons of F-15, F-16 and A-10 fighter aircraft.”

​• On October 13, in prepared remarks in Israel, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said, “security assistance from the Department of Defense is already rapidly flowing into Israel. That includes munitions, air-defense capacities, and other key equipment and resources. It also includes more interceptors for Iron Dome…”.

October 10, according to media reports, Israel received 1,000 250-pound small diameter bombs that were expedited under a pre-existing contract.

October 8, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin announced that the US would move the Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group to the Eastern Mediterranean and that “the United States government will be rapidly providing the Israel Defense Forces with additional equipment and resources, including munitions.”

October 7, as news of Hamas attacks in Israel and Israeli responses were coming, Ben Cardin, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee promised to introduce legislation to provide missile defense and other military support to Israel.

On March 29, US lawmakers Representative Bowman and Senator Sanders issued a statement to Secretary of State Blinken and President Biden, calling for an investigation into if weapons sent to Israel are being used to commit human rights violations against Palestinians. If this were the case, it would be in violation of Section 502B of the Foreign Assistance Act (see media here).