Biden Administration Bypasses Congress to Rush Tank Shells to Israel

Israel Tank
Israeli Merkava tanks in action at an undisclosed location along the border with Lebanon [File: Atef Safadi/EPA]

Hours after United States Ambassador Robert Wood on Friday acted alone to veto a United Nations Security Council resolution demanding an immediate cease-fire in Gaza, the Biden administration again illustrated its growing isolation in continuing to back Israel’s onslaught as it bypassed Congress to send more weapons to the country’s extreme right-wing government.

The U.S. Defense Department posted a notice online Saturday saying U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken had informed Congress that a government sale of 13,000 rounds of tank ammunition was moving forward, even though Congress had not completed an informal review of the transaction.

The State Department invoked an emergency provision of the Arms Control Export Act to bypass the review process generally required for weapons sales to foreign nations. The sale, which Congress has no power to stop now that the provision has been invoked, was valued at more than $106 million.

“Rushing deadly weapons to the far-right and openly genocidal Israeli government without congressional review robs American voters of their voice in Congress, emboldens Netanyahu to kill more Palestinian civilians, and furthers stains our nation’s standing in the world,” said Edward Ahmed Mitchell, national deputy director of the Council on American–Islamic Relations (CAIR).

Mitchell noted that the sale was finalized as media outlets confirmed Israeli tanks have “deliberately targeted and slaughtered journalists in Lebanon.”

“The Biden administration’s decision is an affront to democracy and an act of moral insanity,” he said.

The State Department notified congressional committees of the sale around 11:00 pm EST Friday, hours after a new Pew Research poll showed that only 35% of Americans support the Biden administration’s backing of Israel’s attacks on Gaza. The Israel Defense Forces have now killed more than 17,700 Palestinians in Gaza in just over two months, while claiming they are targeting Hamas.

Thirteen members of the U.N. Security Council on Friday voted in favor of a humanitarian cease-fire, while the U.K. abstained from voting. The U.S. vetoed the resolution in a move CAIR condemned as “unconscionable.”

“It is not clear what level of suffering by the Palestinian people would prompt our nation’s leaders to act in their defense,” said CAIR national executive director Nihad Awad.

Also on Saturday, the global charity Save the Children warned that at least 7,685 children under age five in Gaza are now so malnourished—a result of Israel’s total blockade of the enclave that began in October and the delivery of just a small fraction of the aid that is needed—that they require “urgent medical treatment to avoid death.”

“The repeated failure of the international community to act signifies a death knell to children,” said Jason Lee, country director for Save the Children. “I’ve seen children and families roaming the streets of what hasn’t been flattened in Gaza, with no food, nowhere to go, and nothing to survive on. Even the internationally-funded humanitarian aid response—Gaza’s last lifeline—has been choked by Israeli-imposed restrictions.”

“Gaza’s children are being condemned to further bombardment, starvation, and disease,” said Lee. “We must heed the lessons from the past and must immediately prevent ‘atrocity crimes’ from unfolding.”

The intensifying opposition to Israel’s U.S.- and U.K.-backed bombardment of Gaza was made apparent by an estimated 15,000-20,000 people who marched through London on Saturday to demand a cease-fire.

“We will continue to march,” said the Stop the War Coalition, “until there’s a cease-fire and justice for the Palestinians.”

Julia Conley is a staff writer for Common Dreams.

Originally published in

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