US Considers ‘Up to 50 New F-15 Fighter Jets’ in New Arms Sales to Israel – Reports

The United States is considering up to 50 F-15 fighter jets in new arms sales to Israel. (Photo: TSGT MICHAEL AMMONS, USAF, via Wikimedia Commons)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff  

The congressional aide further said that the F-15 sale alone is valued at up to $18 billion and was notified to the committees in February.

The United States is considering major new weapons sales to Israel of fighter jets, air-to-air missiles and guidance kits worth at least $18 billion, according to reports.

The news comes as Israel has already killed close to 33,000 Palestinians, mostly women and children, in its ongoing assault on the Gaza Strip.

The arms sales include “up to 50 new F-15 fighter jets, 30 AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missiles, and a number of Joint Direct Attack Munition kits, which turn dumb bombs into precision-guided weapons,” the Politico news website, citing two anonymous sources, stated on Monday.

The sale is still pending government approval and will take years before the arms arrive in Israel, according to Politico.

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However, the US administration “has already informally notified the relevant congressional committees,” according to the congressional aide who spoke to the news site.

“That step typically means the administration is ready to move forward with the sale,” said Politico.

The congressional aide further said that the F-15 sale alone is valued at up to $18 billion and was notified to the committees in February.

CNN meanwhile cites three people familiar with the matter as saying that “the Biden administration is close to approving the sale of as many as 50 American-made F-15 fighter jets to Israel, in a deal expected to be worth more than $18 billion.”

The report on Monday stated that the “transaction” which “would amount to the largest US foreign military sale to Israel” since October 7, “comes as the administration is also expected to notify Congress soon of a large new sale of precision-guided munitions kits to Israel,” according to the sources.

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Asked about the reports, a State Department spokesperson told the Anadolu news agency that the department was not able to confirm potential or pending US arms transfers before they are formally notified to Congress.

“In accordance with the Arms Export Control Act, fulfilling an authorization from one notification to Congress can result in dozens of individual FMS cases across the decades-long life-cycle of the Congressional Notification,” the spokesperson said.

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“As a matter of practicality, major procurements, like Israel’s F-35 program for example, are often broken out into several cases over many years,” the spokesperson added.

US President Joe Biden faces growing demands from a number of Democrats who have urged him to condition any additional provision of arms to Israel on its military conduct and removing obstructions to the provision of international humanitarian assistance, reported Anadolu.

Senators Urge Restraint

Last month, eight US senators sent a letter to Biden urging him to halt arms sales to Israel because it is currently in violation of a 1961 law that prohibits arms sales to nations that obstruct the delivery of American aid.

“The United States should not provide military assistance to any country that interferes with US humanitarian assistance,” US senators Bernie Sanders, Chris Van Hollen, Jeff Merkley, Mazie Hirono, Peter Welch, Tina Smith, Elizabeth Warren and Ben Ray Lujan wrote.

“Federal law is clear, and, given the urgency of the crisis in Gaza and the repeated refusal of Prime Minister (Benjamin) Netanyahu to address US concerns on this issue, immediate action is necessary to secure a change in policy by his government,” they added.

They called on Biden to act in accordance with Section 620I of the Foreign Assistance Act, which prevents aid to countries that restrict access to humanitarian assistance.

“According to public reporting and your own statements, the Netanyahu government is in violation of this law. Given this reality, we urge you to make it clear to the Netanyahu government that failure to immediately and dramatically expand humanitarian access and facilitate safe aid deliveries throughout Gaza will lead to serious consequences, as specified under existing U.S. law.”

The letter further stated: “The United States should not provide military assistance to any country that interferes with U.S. humanitarian assistance.”

A February 8 memorandum signed by Biden requires countries that receive US military assistance to give Washington “credible and reliable written assurances” that the arms will be used in compliance with “international human rights law and international humanitarian law,” reported Anadolu.

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Rights Groups’ Warning

Israel submitted written assurances to the State Department last month, but human rights groups say Israel’s assurances to the US government are not credible, urging the government to suspend arms transfers to Israel.

Human Rights Watch and Oxfam submitted a report to the Biden administration last month listing a wide range of Israeli violations of international humanitarian law since October 7.

This includes the use of US-supplied white phosphorus in military operations in Lebanon and Gaza, disproportionate strikes on or near several major hospitals and an ambulance, and the systematic blocking of US-funded assistance.

“There are good reasons why US law prohibits arms support for governments that block life-saving aid or violate international law with US weapons,” said Sarah Yager, Washington director at Human Rights Watch. “Given ongoing hostilities in Gaza, the Israeli government’s assurances to the Biden administration that it is meeting US legal requirements are not credible.”

Women and Children Killed

According to Gaza’s Ministry of Health, 32,916 Palestinians have been killed, and 75,494 wounded in Israel’s ongoing genocide in Gaza starting on October 7.

Moreover, at least 7,000 people are unaccounted for, presumed dead under the rubble of their homes throughout the Strip.

Palestinian and international organizations say that the majority of those killed and wounded are women and children.

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The Israeli aggression has also resulted in the forceful displacement of nearly two million people from all over the Gaza Strip, with the vast majority of the displaced forced into the densely crowded southern city of Rafah near the border with Egypt – in what has become Palestine’s largest mass exodus since the 1948 Nakba.

Israel says that 1,200 soldiers and civilians were killed during the Al-Aqsa Flood Operation on October 7. Israeli media published reports suggesting that many Israelis were killed on that day by ‘friendly fire.’

(The Palestine Chronicle)

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