U.S. Arms Transfers and Security Assistance to Israel
An Arms Trade Resource Center Fact Sheet
by William D. Hartung and Frida Berrigan
May 6, 2002
U.S. press coverage of Israeli attacks on the Palestinian Authority
and Palestinian towns on the West Bank often treat the U.S. government
as either an innocent bystander or an honest broker in the current conflict,
often without giving a full sense of the importance of the United States
role as a supplier of arms, aid, and military technology to Israel. In
its role as Israel’s primary arms supplier, the United States could exert
significant potential leverage over Israeli behavior in the conflict, if
it chooses to do so.
Military and Economic Aid
Since 1976, Israel had been the largest annual recipient of U.S. foreign
assistance. According to a November 2001 Congressional Research Service
report, Israel: U.S. Foreign Assistance, U.S. aid to Israel in the last
half century has totaled a whopping $81.3 billion.
In recent years, Israel remains the top recipient of U.S. military and
economic assistance. The most commonly cited figure is $3 billion a year,
with about $1.8 billion a year in Foreign Military Financing (FMF) grants
from the Department of Defense and an additional $1.2 billion a year in
Economic Support Funds (ESF) from the Department of State. In the last
decade FMF grants to Israel have totaled $18.2 billion. In fact, 17% of
all U.S. foreign aid is earmarked for Israel.
For 2003, the Bush administration is proposing that Israel receive $2.76
billion in foreign aid, with $2.1 billion in FMF and $600 million in ESF.
An additional $28 million will go to Israel for the purchase U.S. manufactured
counter terrorism equipment.
Weapons Sales and Grants
Israel is one of the United State’s largest arms importers. In the last
decade, the United States has sold Israel $7.2 billion in weaponry and
military equipment, $762 million through Direct Commercial Sales (DCS),
more than $6.5 billion through the Foreign Military Financing (FMF) program.
In fact, Israel is so devoted to U.S. military hardware that it has
the world's largest fleet of F-16s outside the U.S., currently possessing
more than 200 jets. Another 102 F-16s are on order from Lockheed Martin.
The United States has also underwritten Israel’s domestic armaments
industry, by giving:
While overall aid to Israel is slated to decrease over the next five years,
military aid will increase significantly. One of President Clinton’s last
acts was to sign an agreement with Israel, phasing out the ESF by 2008.
At the same time, FMF funds to Israel will increase $60 million each year,
reaching $2.4 billion by 2008.
$1.3 billion to develop the Lavi aircraft (cancelled)
$625 million to develop and deploy the Arrow anti-missile missile (an ongoing
$200 million to develop the Merkava tank (operative); the latest version,
the Merkava 4, uses a German V-12 diesel engine produced under license
in the U.S. by General Dynamics
$130 million to develop the high-energy laser anti-missile system (ongoing).
Free Weapons to Israel
The U.S. also gives Israel weapons and ammunition as part of the Excess
Defense Articles (EDA) program, providing these articles completely free
of charge. Between 1994-2001 the U.S. provided many weapons through this
64,744 M-16A1 rifles
2,469 M-204 grenade launchers
1,500 M-2 .50 caliber machine guns
.30 caliber, .50 caliber, and 20mm ammunition
U.S. Weapons in the Israeli Arsenal
||Cost Per Unit
||Boeing (originally McDonnell Douglas)
|F-16 Fighting Falcon
|AH-64 Apache Attack
|CH-53D Sea Stallion
|AGM 65 Maverick
|AGM 114 Hellfire
|AIM 7 Sparrow
|AIM 9 Sidewinder
|AIM 120 B AMRAAM
||Raytheon and Lockheed Martin
|Harpoon Anti-Ship Missile
Weapons that Kill
It is in the United States' national interest to promote the existence
of a stable, democratic and militarily strong Israel, at peace with its
U.S. Department of Defense statement on Israel, in Joint Report to Congress,
January 3, 2001
The scale of Israeli attacks on Palestinian towns and refugee camps
in the West Bank has been "disproportionate and often reckless," according
to a recent Amnesty International report. Amnesty estimates that in the
six weeks from March 1, through mid-April, more than 600 Palestinians have
been killed and over 3,000 wounded by Israeli soldiers.
The use of U.S. weapons in the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian
authority appears to be a clear violation of the U.S. Arms Export Control
Act prohibiting U.S. weapons from being used for non-defensive purposes.
The State Department’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices 2001,
released in March 2002, stated that the IDF employed "excessive use of
force" against the Palestinians, noting their use of live ammunition, even
when not in imminent danger. The State Department report also stated that
Israeli military "shelled Palestinian Authority (PA) institutions and Palestinian
civilian areas in response to individual Palestinian attacks on Israeli
civilians or settlers." These comments demonstrate that the U.S. knows
that weapons are not being used for the "legitimate defense" purposes stipulated
in the Arms Export Control Act.
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan recently expressed his concern with
the use of U.S. weapons by the IDF, saying
I feel obliged to call your attention to disturbing patterns
in the treatment of civilians and humanitarian relief workers by the Israeli
Defense Forces…. Judging from the means and methods employed by the IDF--
F-16 fighter-bombers, helicopter and naval gunships, missiles and bombs
of heavy tonnage-- the fighting has come to resemble all-out conventional
warfare. In the process, hundreds of innocent noncombatant civilians --
men, women and children -- have been injured or killed, and many buildings
and homes have been damaged or destroyed. Tanks have been deployed in densely
populated refugee camps and in towns and villages; and heavy explosives
have been dropped mere meters from schools where thousands of children
were in attendance.
Instances of the IDF’s Use of U.S. Weapons against Civilians
Gaza, CNN, February 11, 2002
"On Sunday [February 10, 2002], Israel attacked the headquarters of Force
17, the elite guard for Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat.
Two employees of the United Nations were wounded and a UN facility was
damaged in the attack, prompting condemnation of the action from UN Secretary
General Kofi Annan. The UN said it was the third time the office of Terje
Roed-Larsen, the UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process,
had been damaged as a result of attacks by the Israelis. The bombing also
caused damage to other UN offices, including that of the representatives
of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Jenin, New York Times, April 18, 2002
"The decaying body of Mr. Khurj's sister appears to be one of the clearest
examples to date of a civilian having been killed in an Apache helicopter
missile attack. There is an enormous hole in the wall of her bedroom and
a two-foot-wide crater in the floor. Shards of a missile, including one
with labels in English describing ''firing temperature'' and ''cooling
temperature,'' littered the floor. Near the hole in the wall was a pool
of dried blood. Mr. Khurj said the missile struck in the middle of the
night on the third day of the attack. It killed his sister instantly."
Deheishe, Washington Post, March 10, 2002.
"Today Israeli tanks and troops invaded the other camp, Deheishe, which
has a population of 8,000. Tanks and bulldozers had been positioned on
a hill behind the community, and armed AH-64 Apache attack helicopters
had hovered overhead. Soldiers knocked down a pedestrian bridge that led
to the camp's school."
Bethlehem, Washington Post, March 8, 2002.
"The Israeli military almost immediately launched more missiles and opened
fire with gunboats at official Palestinian buildings in the Gaza Strip,
where there were heavy casualties. Israel also sent dozens of tanks and
armored personnel carriers into Bethlehem, two adjacent Palestinian refugee
camps and a pair of neighboring West Bank towns, bringing full-scale military
action to the suburbs of Jerusalem. The bark of heavy machine guns atop
Israel's armored vehicles echoed throughout Bethlehem, considered the birthplace
of Jesus, and U.S.-supplied AH-64 Apache helicopters fired into the Aida
refugee camp between Bethlehem and Beit Jala."
Resources for More Information
Foreign Policy In Focus: April 2002 issue brief on U.S. Military
Aid to Israel available on their web site at www.foreignpolicy-infocus.org
Arms Sales Monitoring Project, Federation of American Scientists (www.fas.org/asmp)
has a searchable database on U.S. arms transfers by country, plus a list
of recent arms sales agreements entered into by the U.S.
Jane’s Defence Weekly has done an Israel country briefing in
its May 1, 2002 issue, containing about eight pages of analysis of current
Israeli armed forces with details on key holdings. Available on the web
Frida Berrigan and William D. Hartung of the Arms Trade Resource
Center prepared this fact sheet. The ATRC is a project of the World Policy
Institute at the New School University. Contact the project at email@example.com
or 212-229-5808 ext. 112.