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U.S. halts transfer of Hellfire missiles to Israel

Activists protest Israel's attacks on Gaza in a demonstration in front of the White House in Washington, DC, August 9, 2014. The protest was part of a global "Day of Rage" called by Palestinian civil society against Israel's war on Gaza.

Activists protest Israel’s attacks on Gaza in a demonstration in front of the White House in Washington, DC, August 9, 2014. The protest was part of a global “Day of Rage” called by Palestinian civil society against Israel’s war on Gaza. (photo: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org)

Apparently, someone at the White House was looking out the window last Saturday as protesters demanded an end to U.S. support for Israel’s offensive on Gaza. In an action that comes as Operation Protective Edge appears to be more or less over, Haaretz reports:

[A]gainst the backdrop of American displeasure over IDF tactics used in the Gaza fighting and the high number of civilian casualties caused by Israel’s massive use of artillery fire rather than more precise weapons, officials in the White House and the State Department are now demanding to review every Israeli request for American arms individually, rather than let them move relatively unchecked through a direct military-to-military channel, a fact that slows down the process.

According to a senior U.S. official, the decision to tighten oversight and require approval of higher-ranking officials over shipments, was intended to make clear to Israel that there is no “blank check” from Washington in regards to the U.S.-made weapons the IDF makes use of in its Gaza operations.

The United States is Israel’s strongest friend, a senior official in the Obama administration told the Wall Street Journal, but “[t]he notion that they are playing the United States, or that they’re manipulating us publicly, completely miscalculates their place in the world.”

The Jerusalem Post also quotes from the Wall Street Journal report that broke the story:

A senior Obama administration official was quoted in the report as saying the decision to scrutinize future transfers at the highest levels amounted to “the United States saying ‘The buck stops here. Wait a second…It’s not OK anymore.”

The report depicted a context of poor relations between Obama and Netanyahu and claimed that the decision to halt the weapons transfer was made at a point when the White House and State Department became “increasingly disturbed by what they saw as heavy-handed battlefield tactics that they believed risked a humanitarian catastrophe,” in Gaza.

Anticipating a backlash from hawkish pro-Israel groups, the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation has launched a petition asking signers to thank the Obama Administration for taking this significant step. However too little or too late the White Houses measure may come in the midst of Gaza’s suffering, the petition notes that “This is the first time that we know of that the Obama Administration has ever taken any action to curtail U.S. weapons deliveries to Israel.”

Activists protest Israel's attacks on Gaza in demonstration in front of the White House in Washington, DC, August 9, 2014. The protest was part of a global "Day of Rage" called by Palestinian civil society against Israel's war on Gaza.

Activists protest Israel’s attacks on Gaza in demonstration in front of the White House in Washington, DC, August 9, 2014. The protest was part of a global “Day of Rage” called by Palestinian civil society against Israel’s war on Gaza.

Related:
Amid Gaza war IDF buys ammunition from U.S. stock in Israel
Challenging U.S. military aid to Israel

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    1. Mikesailor

      Since Hellfire missiles are designed to be used against armor or reinforced bunkers, I wonder why Israel wanted them in the first place? To attack more UN schools? Or perhaps the hospitals are made of specialized concrete? I’m sorry but I realize the problem now… The Gazan ambulances they keep attacking are now being armored by Hamas. How much more BS will they try to feed the world?

      Reply to Comment
      • Whiplash

        Hell Fire missiles are precision laser guided missiles used to take out missile launchers while limiting the collateral damage.

        Reply to Comment
    2. Whiplash

      The order was for $3 million dollars of Hell Fire missiles which the Pentagon had already approved. A drop in the bucket. What this is about is President Obama and his personal feud with Prime Minister Netanyahu. As the quote from Haaretz states Israel “completely miscalculates their place in the world.”

      I suspect that Prime Minister may still have a thing or two to teach the naive and inexperienced president of the United States.

      Further, mid term elections are around the corner now and Democrats may find themselves in trouble.

      The worst thing about Obama is that he is such a hypocrite. The American Army in Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan never exercised the type of restraint that the American administration thinks Israel should. America’s kill ratio of civilians to terrorists was 98%, meaning for every terrorist killed 50 civilians were killed. Israel claims it ratio is 1 to 1. In Al-Sadar City in Iraq Americans built a wall to separate part of the City and then shelled, bombed and attacked it without mercy. They heavily damaged one of the main hospitals when it destroyed an enemy position next to the hospital.

      Reply to Comment
      • Danny

        ‘As the quote from Haaretz states Israel “completely miscalculates their place in the world.”’

        This is the key statement in your diatribe that you so elegantly ignore. Israel has been messing around with American politics for far too long, and it appears that certain circles in Washington are beginning to get tired of it. If Obama can allow himself to make such a brazen move as to stop selling Israel weapons (something that seemed unthinkable a few years ago), then Israel’s image in Washington may be very tarnished indeed.

        I think Israel better hope that the Democrats get decimated in the mid terms because if the Dems do even moderately well it may be open season on Israel and its U.S. agents.

        Reply to Comment
        • Whiplash

          The US has a secret (or not so secret) stockpile of surplus war material in Israel worth about 1.2 billion dollars. Two weeks ago president Obama authorized Israel to receive 40mm grenades and 120mm mortar rounds from the stockpile. He also signed an emergency bill for the provision of $225 million dollars to be paid to Israel for the Iron Dome defense system. Now he holds back 3 million dollars of Hell Fire missiles.

          It is no more than a petulant gesture from a vain man who failed at unseating Netanyahu in the last Israeli election.

          Obama might want to view what Israeli polls are saying. If an election was held today Likud would take 28 seats followed by Naftali Bennett’s Home party with 19 seats. The right wing block would have a significant majority without having to rely on Yesh Atid, Hatuna or Labor.

          Obama might find that Jewish supporters of the Democrats sit on their money when it comes to donating to the Democrat party and staying home when it comes to voting. Some may even hold their noses and vote republican.

          Reply to Comment
          • Danny

            According to some reports, Israel got approval for the munitions indirectly, circumventing the White House. That must have really pissed Obama and Kerry, hence the new directive that every munition sale is to go through them from now on. Netanyahu, as per usual, shoots himself in the foot yet again. He has the mental capacity of Elmer Fudd.

            I’m sure Obama literally doesn’t give a shit what Israeli polls are projecting for Likud (anymore than he gives a shit what Russian polls are projecting for Putin). Israel’s democracy is a joke, and its politicians reflect that.

            Reply to Comment
          • Wim Vincken

            The procedure to get weapons from the US by Israel was in place for years already. Those procedures did not include the permission of the President.
            It was not the circumventing the white house.
            But now Obama wants to have a say in every shipment of weapons Israel buys from the Americans.

            Reply to Comment