US set to approve $735 million arms to Israel, including kits turning conventional munitions into 'smart bombs'

US set to approve $735 million arms to Israel, including kits turning conventional munitions into 'smart bombs'
An arms deal valued at $735 million will provide Israel with kits to turn conventional munitions into 'smart-bombs'.
3 min read
18 May, 2021
US lawmakers are expected to approve the deal [Getty]

The Biden administration will sell Israel a further $735 million in precision-guided weapons, despite the ongoing bombardment of civilians in Gaza

Congressional sources indicated to The Washington Post, that the deal would likely be approved by the Houses without objections. 

Israel is currently engaged in a brutal and bloody campaign against besieged Gaza, and has targeted numerous civilian areas killing over 200 people.

"Allowing this proposed sale of smart bombs to go through without putting pressure on Israel to agree to a ceasefire will only enable further carnage," one Democratic lawmaker on the House Foreign Affairs Committee told The Washington Post

"In the past week, the Israeli military's strikes have killed many civilians and destroyed the building that housed the Associated Press, an American company reporting on the facts in Gaza," they continued.

According to the sources, the US Congress was notified that the deal was in progress in April, and officially informed on 5 May, during the customary review process ahead of major foreign weapons sales. 

US law states that once official notification has been given, Congress has 15-days to object to the sale, although no objection is expected to be voiced. 

When Boeing’s sale of Joint Direct Attack Munitions, or JDAMs, was first announced, it was considered to be routine, and pre-dated the latest violence in the region.

The Democratic and Republican leadership of the congressional foreign affairs committees, who are responsible for reviewing such deals, made no objections at the time. 

JDAMs are a guidance kits that can be attached to unguided munitions, converting them into precision-guided "smart bombs".

Despite the overwhelming support for Israel in the US House, recent events have prompted a number of lawmakers to speak out against the increasing violence inflicted on Gaza.

"We cannot just condemn rockets fired by Hamas and ignore Israel's state-sanctioned police violence against Palestinians - including unlawful evictions, violent attacks on protestors & the murder of Palestinian children. US aid should not be funding this violence," tweeted the representative for Wisconsin's 2nd District, Mark Pocan. 

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Annually, the US provides Israel with $3.8 billion in aid, separate to arms sales, which is not conditional on its human rights records. Such exemptions are not granted to other nations that receive US aid. 

On Monday the ministry of health in Gaza reported that the death toll, caused by Israeli attacks, had risen to 212, including at least 61 children and 36 women. A further 15 Palestinians had been killed by Israeli security forces in the West Bank. 

Rockets fired by Hamas have killed 10 Israelis since fighting erupted.