U.S. expedites bombs shipment to Israel, outcry in the Muslim world

Sunday, July 23, 2006

While whole blocks of Beirut are leveled to rubble and civilians flee by the thousands, the U.S. administration is, according to the New York Times expediting a delivery of bombs to Israel. An op-ed piece in the Sydney Morning Herald concludes that the sale of more American arms to the Israeli arm will cause anger and might be used to justify Iran supplying missiles to Hezbollah. According to Arab political analysts the decision to rush more bombs to Israel will increase existing anti-American feelings in the Middle East and will help radicals.

The rushing of more bombs to Israel is consistent with US policy, according to a report issued three days ago by the World Policy Institute which indicates that Israel has always been the largest recipient of military aid from the United States. According to Frida Berrigan, co-author of the review entitled U.S. Military Assistance and Arms Transfers to Israel: U.S. Aid, Companies Fuel Israeli Military, U.S. military aid to Israel is about $3 billion a year. This equates to about 20% of the Israeli military budget annually. According to Berrigan, in an interview given to Democracy Now on Friday, just on the 14th of July while calling for restraint the U.S. also sold $120 million worth of jet fuel to the Israeli military assisting their bombing campaign of Lebanon. In fact, Berrigan said, since the Bush administration came into power, about a total of $6.3 billion worth of weapons sold to Israel. Berrigan also added that if in fact the United States wanted to cut military aid at this time they have precedent to do so, citing as an example the Reagan administration's cut of military aid and freezing of weapons sales to Israel during its last invasion of Lebanon in 1981, during the then conflict's first 10 weeks.

Israel claims they have been using precision-guided munitions in order to neutralize Hezbollah and to minimize harm to civilians. However, U.N. and Lebanese officials estimate at least 360 Lebanese civilians have been killed and more than 1,000 wounded, with about 700,000 people already displaced since Israel's bombings began. According to the United Nation's emergency relief co-coordinator, Jan Egeland, nearly one third of casualties resulting from the Israeli offensive in Lebanon have been children. Egeland, who visited Lebanon today denounced the Israeli strikes and appealed for safe passage for aid, saying civilians were paying a "disproportionate price" in the attacks targeting Hezbollah strongholds. He said civilians are paying a disproportionate price in Lebanon and northern Israel and stated that "A disproportionate response by Israel is a violation of international humanitarian law."

In many capital cities around the world including the Middle East, as well as Europe, Canada, Latin America and the United States thousands of people took part in demonstrations against the Israeli strikes. In London people marched to the US embassy and shouted slogans such as "George Bush, terrorist" and "Down, down, USA." In Tel Aviv 1,000 Israeli Jews and Arabs also turned out to denounce their country's actions, gathering in Rabin Square and brandishing placards reading "war is disaster" and "Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies."