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Amnesty International: Foreign Arms Supplies To Israel/Gaza Fueling Conflict
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Foreign Arms Supplies To Israel/Gaza Fueling Conflict



Both Israel and Hamas used weapons supplied from abroad to carry out attacks on civilians. This briefing contains fresh evidence on the munitions used during the three-week conflict in Gaza and southern Israel and includes information on the supplies of arms to all parties to the conflict. It explains why Amnesty International is calling for a cessation of arms supplies to the parties to the conflict and calling on the United Nations to impose a comprehensive arms embargo.
Contents





Introduction



With fragile ceasefires now in place in Gaza and southern Israel, the full extent of the devastation caused in recent weeks is becoming increasingly clear. Amnesty International researchers visiting Gaza and southern Israel during and after the fighting found evidence of war crimes and other serious violations of international law by all parties to the conflict.


In the three weeks following the start of the Israeli military offensive on 27 December, Israeli forces killed more than 1,300 Palestinians in Gaza, including more than 300 children and many other civilians, and injured over 5,000 other Palestinians, again including many civilians. Israeli forces also destroyed thousands of homes and other property and caused significant damage to the infrastructure of Gaza, causing a worsening of the humanitarian crisis arising from the 18-month blockade maintained by Israel. Some of the Israeli bombardments and other attacks were directed at civilians or civilian buildings in the Gaza Strip; others were disproportionate or indiscriminate. Amnesty International has found indisputable evidence that Israeli forces used white phosphorus, which has a highly incendiary effect, in densely populated residential areas in Gaza, putting the Palestinian civilian population at high risk. Israeli forces' use of artillery and other non-precision weapons in densely-populated residential areas increased the risk, and the harm done, to the civilian population.


During the same period, Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups continued to fire indiscriminate rockets into residential areas of southern Israel, killing three civilians.


Direct attacks on civilians and civilian objects, disproportionate attacks and indiscriminate attacks are war crimes.


Amnesty International is calling on the United Nations, and the Security Council (SC) in particular, to establish an immediate independent investigation into allegations of war crimes and other serious violations of international law committed by all sides to the conflict and for those found responsible to be brought to justice in order to ensure accountability. The organization notes and welcomes the investigation established by the UN Secretary-General into attacks on UN installations in Gaza but considers this insufficient, and that an independent international investigation must be held into all allegations of war crimes and other violations of international law by all the parties to the conflict in Gaza and southern Israel. As well, Amnesty International is calling on the UN, notably the Security Council, to impose an immediate, comprehensive arms embargo on all parties to the conflict, and on all states to take action individually to impose national embargoes on any arms or weapons transfers to the parties to the conflict until there is no longer a substantial risk that such arms or weapons could be used to commit serious violations of international law.


Amnesty International is deeply concerned that weaponry, munitions and other military equipment supplied to Israel have been used by Israeli armed forces to carry out direct attacks on civilians and civilian objects in Gaza, and attacks which were disproportionate or indiscriminate. Amnesty International is also concerned that Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups have been firing indiscriminate rockets, supplied or constructed of materials supplied from outside Gaza, at civilian population centres in southern Israel.


Misuse of conventional arms by Israeli forces



Hundreds of civilians taking no part in the hostilities, including over 300 children and more than 100 civilian police cadets who were not directly participating in the hostilities, were killed in attacks by Israeli forces against the Gaza Strip. Civilian homes and other buildings, including medical facilities, schools and a university, were also damaged or destroyed by Israeli air strikes and artillery and other attacks -- artillery is an area weapon, not one that can be used with pinpoint accuracy, and so should never be used in densely-populated civilian areas.


Amnesty International researchers, including a weapons expert, found various fragments and components from munitions used by the Israeli army during the three-week military offensive launched on 27 December. They include fragments of artillery shells (white phosphorus, high explosive and illuminating), tank shells, mortar fins, highly incendiary white phosphorus-impregnated felt wedges, anti-tank mines and a range of live and spent bullets casings of various calibres - including 7.62 mm, 5.56 mm and the larger .50 calibre.


The information below describes the types of munitions and military equipment used during the conflict that Amnesty International has documented, including in circumstances which violate international humanitarian law and, in some cases, may amount to war crimes.Amnesty International called on the Israeli authorities to disclose the weapons used by their forces in Gaza so that medical staff would be adequately informed to treat victims of the conflict.


Air delivered munitions

Amnesty International found remnants of air-delivered munitions -- ranging from fragments of 20mm cannon and Hellfire and other missiles fired from helicopters and unmanned drones, to large fragments of large laser-guided and other bombs dropped from F-16 warplanes, as well as pieces of rocket motors, circuit boards and other electrical components of the missiles. Fragments from these bombardments are all over Gaza - on the streets, in school playgrounds, in hospitals and in people's homes. Fragments from one 500lb bomb contained the inscription 'For use on MK-82 fin guided bomb' and the markings 96214 ASSY 837760-4. The cage code 96214 indicates that this fin was produced by the US company Raytheon. A US government solicitation notice dated 22 October 2001 for 'bomb spare parts' included AFG Fin, Raytheon part number 837760-4.1



Fragments from a MK-82 bomb ©Amnesty International


By the rubble of the American School in Gaza, Amnesty International delegates spoke to the father of the school guard, Mahmoud Mohammed Selmi Abu Qleiq, who was killed when Israeli F16 aircraft bombed the school campus. Hundreds of homes were completely destroyed as a result of bombardments by F-16 aircraft.


At the northern end of the al-Shati (Beach) refugee camp in Gaza City, Amnesty International visited the Abu 'Eisha family. Five members of the family - three children and their parents - were killed on the night of 5 January, when an Israeli aircraft dropped a bomb which struck and partially destroyed the house. The following day, 6 January, another Israeli F-16 bombardment killed 23 members of the al-Daya family, most of them children and women, as they slept in their home in the Zaytoun district of Gaza City. When Amnesty International delegates visited the ruins of the house two weeks later, several of the dead were still trapped under the huge pile of rubble.



Anti-Tank Mines



An Israeli anti-tank mine with Hebrew markings ©Amnesty International


On Wednesday 28 January, at the home of the Mardi family in Atatra, where 20 members of the family lived, Amnesty International delegates found one of the anti-tank mines that was used by Israeli soldiers to blow up the family's house on 4 January. The mine was damaged but had failed to explode. The family said that they had found another such mine, wholly unexploded, which had been removed by the local police. The mine, like others - exploded and unexploded - found by AI delegates in the rubble of other destroyed houses, bore Hebrew writing and serial numbers. Though designed for use against tanks, these mines are easily adapted to other purposes through the addition of an explosive charge and fuse. Israeli soldiers have previously confirmed to Amnesty International that these anti-tank mines have long been used to destroy Palestinian houses, most often in the West Bank but also in Gaza.


Artillery and Mortars

During the three-week military campaign Israeli forces made extensive use of artillery including 155mm white phosphorus shells (see below White Phosphorus) in residential areas, causing death and injuries to civilians. Homes, schools, medical facilities and UN buildings -- all civilian objects - took direct hits from Israeli artillery shelling. Artillery shells are for use on conventional battlefields and are not capable of pinpoint targeting. Yet in Gaza they were fired into densely-populated civilian residential areas.


In an UNRWA primary school in Beit Lahia, where 1,600 people were sheltering from the fighting, an artillery carrier shell hit a classroom on the second floor where 35 people were sleeping at 6am on 17 January. Two brothers, aged five and seven, were killed and 14 others were injured, including the boys' mother, whose leg had to be amputated. Two days after the incident Amnesty International delegates found remains of 155 mm white phosphorus artillery shells and still smouldering remains of white phosphorus at the school.


Eleven days earlier, on 6 January, mortar shells fired by Israeli forces had landed in the street outside another UNRWA school in Jabalia, killing at least 41 people, among them 10 members of one family.


White Phosphorus

There is evidence that white phosphorus was used by Israeli forces across Gaza. Amnesty International came across many white phosphorus 155mm artillery carrier shells throughout Gaza with markings M825 A1 -- a US-made munition. These are the same markings of the 155mm white phosphorus shells photographed in Israeli Defense Forces' (IDF) stockpiles (see section Arms supplies to Israel below).


Several white phosphorus artillery shells hit the UNRWA field operations headquarters in Gaza City on 15 January, causing a large fire which destroyed tens of tons of humanitarian aid, including, medicines, food and other non-food items.2 Amnesty International delegates who visited the site found the marking PB-91K018-035 on the fragments of one of the artillery shells which is the lot number and indicates that they were assembled by Pine Bluff Arsenal (PB) in 1991 (91) in October (K).



A white phosphorus carrier shell ©Amnesty International


Amnesty International found that the Israeli army used white phosphorus, a weapon with a highly incendiary effect, in densely-populated civilian residential areas in and around Gaza City, and in the north and south of the Gaza Strip. The organization's delegates found white phosphorus still burning in residential areas throughout Gaza days after the ceasefire came into effect on 18 January - that is, up to three weeks after the white phosphorus artillery shells had been fired by Israeli forces. Amnesty International considers that the repeated use of white phosphorus in this way in densely-populated civilian areas constitutes a form of indiscriminate attack, and amounts to a war crime.3


White phosphorus is a weapon intended to provide a smokescreen for troop movements on the battlefield. When each 155mm artillery shell bursts, it releases 116 wedges impregnated with white phosphorus which ignite on contact with oxygen and can scatter, depending on the height at which it is burst (and wind conditions), over an area at least the size of a football pitch. In addition to the indiscriminate effect of air-bursting such a weapon, firing such shells as artillery exacerbates the likelihood that civilians will be affected. When white phosphorus lands on skin it burns deeply through muscle and into the bone, continuing to burn until deprived of oxygen. It can contaminate other parts of the patient's body or even those treating the injuries.
A 16-year-old girl, Samia Salman Al-Manay'a, was asleep in her home in the Jabalia refugee camp, north of Gaza City, when a phosphorus shell landed on the first floor of the house at 8pm on 10 January. Ten days later, from her hospital bed, she told Amnesty International that she was still experiencing intense pain due to the burns to her face and legs. "The pain is piercing. It's as though a fire is burning in my body. It's too much for me to bear. In spite of all the medicine they are giving me the pain is still so strong."4


Amnesty International has seen documents written during the Israeli military offensive on Gaza by the office of the Israeli army Chief Medical Officer and Medical Field Operations headquarters.5 A document signed by Colonel Dr Gil Hirschorn, head of trauma in the office of the army's Chief Medical Officer, states: "When the phosphorus comes in contact with living tissue it causes its damage by 'eating' away at it. Characteristics of a phosphorus wound are: chemical burns accompanied by extreme pain, damage to tissue ... the phosphorus may seep into the body and damage internal organs. In the long run, kidney failure and the spread of infection are characteristic ... In conclusion: a wound by an ordnance containing explosive phosphorus is inherently dangerous and has the potential to cause serious damage to tissue."

Another document entitled "Exposure to White Phosphorus," prepared by Medical Field Operations HQ and sent from the Health Ministry, notes that "most of the data on phosphorus wounds stems from animal testing and accidents. Exposure to white phosphorus is highly poisonous, according to many lab experiments. Burns covering a small area of the body, 12-15 percent in lab animals and less than 10 percent in humans, may be lethal as a result of its effects, mostly on the liver, heart and kidneys."

In addition to the danger posed by the incendiary effect of white phosphorus, the artillery shells themselves continued to pose lethal threat after they dispersed the white phosphorus, as they continued on their trajectory and in many cases smashed into home full of civilians.


In Khuzaa, east of Khan Younis, in the south of Gaza, Amnesty International delegates found white phosphorus artillery carrier shells, both whole and in fragments, in several homes in a densely-populated residential area. In one home, they found the fragments of another 155mm artillery carrier shell which had killed 47-year-old Hanan al-Najjar, a mother of four. She and her family had fled their home and were staying with relatives in a residential area well inside the town. On the evening of 10 January an artillery shell penetrated the roof of the house and travelled through two rooms, breaking up in the hall, where a large fragment hit Hanan in the chest, almost severing the upper part of her body. She was killed instantly. In the patio of the house, Amnesty International delegates found an artillery shell (illuminating round) and in a nearby house they found another whole artillery carrier shell which had crashed through the wall and landed on the young couple's bed, where a baby had been sleeping only minutes earlier.


Illuminating artillery shells

Amnesty International delegates encountered 155mm M485 A2 illuminating shells used by the IDF which had landed in built up residential areas in Gaza. These eject a phosphorus canister, which floats down under a parachute. At least three of these carrier shells were found which had landed in people's homes. These shells are yellow and one had the following markings: TZ 1-81 155-M 485 A2. TZ is a known marking on Israeli ammunition.



An artillery carrier shell which ejects a canister for illumination ©Amnesty International


At the home of journalist Samir Khalifa, in the Zaitoun district of Gaza City, Amnesty International delegates found a 155mm artillery shell which had smashed into his fourth floor apartment at 6am on 10 January, striking the room next to where he and his wife and children usually slept.6 The family escaped harm as they were sleeping downstairs with the grandparents.


Flechettes

Flechettes are not specifically prohibited under international humanitarian law. However, their use in densely-populated civilian areas in Gaza contributed to unlawful killings of and injuries to civilians. Flechettes are 4cm long metal darts that are sharply pointed at the front, with four fins at the rear. Between 5,000 and 8,000 of these darts are packed into 120mm shells which are generally fired from tanks. The shells explode in the air and scatter the flechettes in a conical pattern over an area about 300m long and 100m wide.7Flechette rounds are designed to be used against massed infantry attacks or squads of troops in the open and obviously pose a very high risk to civilians when fired in densely-populated civilian residential areas, as deployed by Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip.


Amnesty International investigated several deaths and injuries of civilians in Gaza caused by flechettes in January.8 In one case, on 4 January 2009, an ambulance arrived about 15 minutes after a missile strike in Beit Lahiya that apparently targeted five unarmed young men. The ambulance was hit a few minutes later by a tank shell filled with flechettes. Two paramedics were seriously wounded in the incident and one of them, Arafa Hani Abd-al-Dayem, later died.


The following morning, Israeli forces fired several flechette shells into the main road near the Abd al-Dayem family home in 'Izbet Beit Hanoun, to the south-west of the town of Beit Hanoun. Two people, a child and a woman, were killed and several others were injured. Sixteen-year-old Islam Jaber Abd-al-Dayem was struck in the neck by a flechette. He was taken to the hospital's intensive care unit but died three days later. Mizar, his brother, was injured in the same attack and still has a flechette lodged in his back. Nearby, 21-year-old Wafa' Abu Jarad, who was pregnant, her two-year-old son, her husband, and her father and brother-in-law were all injured by flechettes in the courtyard of their home. Wafa' Abu Jarad died of her injuries two days later.


Amnesty International has previously documented Israeli forces' use of flechette rounds in Gaza resulting in the killing of children.9 The manner in which shells containing flechettes were used by Israeli forces in Gaza -- fired in densely populated civilian areas - violates the international law prohibition on indiscriminate attack. Prior to their use during the recent military offensive, the last known incident when flechettes were used in Gaza was on 16 April 2008, when Israeli soldiers fired a flechette tank shell at Reuters journalist Fadel Shana, while he was filming the tank, killing him and three other unarmed civilians, including two children.10
In 2001, Jane's defense publication quoted an Israeli military source, who stated: "The Israeli military obtained these weapons from the USA after the 1973 war and we have thousands of old shells in warehouses...The weapon is not regarded as reliable or effective and gunners have a difficult time in aiming this properly."[B]11


[/B]

Tank Ammunition

The markings on the base of one tank round found by Amnesty International delegates in Gaza at the destroyed house of the Abu 'Ida family indicated that it was a 120mm M830 High Explosive Multi Purpose Cartridge made in the USA.


Base of tank cartridge found by Abu Abdullah Abu 'Ida outside his house ©Amnesty International
Amnesty International delegates found fragments from 120mm tank rounds all over Gaza, including in homes where these munitions had killed children and other civilians. Tank rounds are precision munitions. The killings of so many civilians, many in their homes, indicates that these munitions were -- at best -- used in a reckless or indiscriminate manner. In Jabaliya, north Gaza, at the home of Dr Izz al-Din Abu al-'Eish, a gynaecologist who works in an Israeli hospital, Amnesty International delegates found fragments of the two 120mm tank shells which were fired by Israeli soldiers into the bedroom of Dr Abu al-'Eish's daughters on the afternoon of 16 January. Three of the doctor's daughters and his niece were killed on the spot and another daughter and niece were seriously injured.


Missiles from UAVs -- or "drones", helicopters and aircraft

Three paramedics in their mid 20s -- Anas Fadhel Na'im, Yaser Kamal Shbeir, and Raf'at Abd al-'Al -- were killed in the early afternoon of 4 January in Gaza City as they walked through a small field on their way to rescue two wounded men in a nearby orchard. A 12-year-old boy, Omar Ahmad al-Barade'e, who was standing near his home indicating to the paramedic the place where the wounded were, was also killed in the same strike.


Amnesty International went to the scene of the incident with the two ambulance drivers who had accompanied the paramedics and who had witnessed the attack and met the child's distraught mother and found the remains of the missile that killed the three paramedics and the child. The label read "guided missile, surface attack" and the USA is mentioned as the weapon's country of origin.12This AGM 114 Hellfire missile, usually launched from Apache helicopters, was produced by Hellfire Systems of Orlando,a Lockheed Martin/Boeing joint venture, under a contract with the US Army's Aviation and Missile Command at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama which uses the number DAAH01-03-C-0106 on its contracts.


Label on the remains of a missile that killed three paramedics and a child ©Amnesty International


Amnesty International found evidence of missile components, including Hellfire AGM 114, from the air attack on the police cadet parade that took place on 27 December 2008. One of the electrical components had "made in France" written on it.


Cube-shaped shrapnel

Amnesty International delegates in Gaza also found evidence of the use of a new type of missile, seemingly launched from unmanned drones, which explodes large numbers of tiny sharp-edged metal cubes, each between 2 and 4 mm square in size. This purpose-made shrapnel can penetrate even thick metal doors and many were seen by Amnesty International's delegates embedded deep in concrete walls. They appear designed to cause maximum injury and, in some respects, seem to be a more sophisticated version of the ball-bearings or nails and bolts which armed groups often pack into crude rockets and suicide bombs. The signature of these new missiles, in addition to the deadly tiny metal cubes, is a small and deep hole in the ground (about 10 cm or less in diameter and up to several metres in depth) and a small quantity of shrapnel made of very thin metal, seemingly from the missile's casing.


An X-ray of a young man who had been injured in one of these missile attacks, which killed a dozen youths and injured several others, showed the tiny metal pellets still embedded in his thigh.


A 13-year-old girl who was asleep in her bed; three primary school-age boys who were carrying sugar canes; two young women on their way to a shelter in search of safety; a 13-year-old boy on his bicycle; eight secondary school students who were waiting for the school bus to take them home; an entire family sitting in the courtyard of their home, and many others were all killed in attacks with these missiles.


Dense Inert Metal Explosives (DIME)

There have been reports of the use by Israeli forces of DIME munitions in Gaza. Amnesty International researchers in Gaza were not able to confirm the use of such weapons but they interviewed doctors who described treating patients with injuries that could be consistent with the use of DIME weapons.13


According to the military publication, Jane's Intelligence Defence Review, DIME munitions contain high explosives mixed with a powdered, high-density metal such as tungsten, a design which reportedly"improves the blast impulse and lethality near the detonation point (near field) but reduces the more distant (far field) effects."14


DIME munitions are not specifically prohibited under international law. However, as a relatively new weapon, there are questions about their long-term health consequences, which require further study. It is suspected by some scientists that embedded weapons-grade tungsten alloy shrapnel rapidly causes cancer in rats and, while it is not known whether the rate of inducement would be equivalent in human beings, further studies are required into the effects, and risks posed to humans exposed to it, of weapons-grade tungsten shrapnel.


Some medical doctors in Gaza described attending victims who had unusual wounds that might have been caused by DIME weapons. Patterns of injury include limbs severed in a sharp amputation-like manner, with wounds looking as if cauterized and with little or no bleeding; very deep burns; and unexplained deterioration and deaths of patients with seemingly light injuries. Doctors are finding it difficult to treat these patients because of uncertainty about the nature of the munitions which caused the injuries.


Amnesty International is calling on the Israeli authorities to disclose the weapons and munitions used by their forces in Gaza, in order to facilitate treatment of the injured. The organization believes further studies are required before it can be determined whether the use of DIME munitions is lawful under international law. If it were determined that such weapons cause superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering, or if they violate the provisions of the Protocol on Non-Detectable Fragments (Protocol I to the Convention on Conventional Weapons) of 10 October 1980, then their use even against combatants, not only civilians, would be prohibited.



Unlawful use of indiscriminate rockets by Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups



Palestinian armed groups affiliated to Hamas and to other Palestinian factions (including the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, the armed wing of Fatah, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's party) have been launching rockets into towns and villages in south Israel. Although most of these rockets fall in empty areas, they have caused the deaths of several Israeli civilians, injured scores and caused damage to civilian property. In some cases these rockets have failed to reach Israel and have fallen inside Gaza, and some have killed and injured Palestinian civilians. In January 2009, as an increasing number of Palestinian rockets hit Ashkelon, Israeli officials reported that up to 40 percent of the city's 122,000 inhabitants had left their homes temporarily to stay in other parts of Israel. Sderot and villages in the area have also been similarly affected.


The rockets fired by Palestinian armed groups cannot accurately be directed at specific targets especially at longer distances. They include rockets described as Grads (Russian generic names which may indicate specific (Grad 122mm) calibres, or generically describe multiple-launched rockets) which have a range of about 35km, and home-made short range "Qassam" rockets (another generic name).15 The military publication Jane's Terrorism and Security Monitor has described the "Qassam" rockets as: "inaccurate, short-range and rarely lethal".16 According to Jane's the "Qassam" is a Palestinian improvised artillery weapon.17 Amnesty International delegates visited Sderot and Ashkelon police stations, where they saw the rockets which have struck the towns and surrounding areas, including Grads, Qassams and Quds.18 The latter two are very crude, rusty 60, 90, or 120mm pipes about 1.5 metres long with fins welded onto them. They can hold about five kilograms of explosives as well as shrapnel in the form of nails, bolts, or round metal sheets which rip into pieces on impact. They have a range of up to 20km, but cannot be aimed accurately. Grad rockets are more professionally built and according to Israeli Police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld are smuggled into Gaza, not produced locally there.
According to the Israeli army, Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups launched 643 rocket attacks on Israel between 27 December 2008 and 11 January 2009. See the table for more information19:


IDF Reports of Number of rocket attacks by Hamas
27 December 2008 -- 11 January 2009
TOTAL: 643
Date
27/
12
28/
12
29/
12
30/
12
31/
12
01/
01
02/
01
03/
01
04/
01
05/
01
06/
01
07/
01
08/
01
09/
01
10/
01
11/
01
Attacks
78
35
80
51
64
64
31
35
34
33
33
18
18
24
22
23
Seven Israeli civilians were killed in 2008 by rockets fired by Palestinian armed groups from Gaza into communities in south Israel. Three of the victims were killed in separate attacks on three consecutive days, on 27, 28 and 29 December 2008.
Fifty-eight-year-old Beber Vaknin was killed when a rocket fired from Gaza hit his apartment building in Netivot on 27 December 2008. The following day, on 28 December a 27-year-old Bedouin, Hani al-Mahdi, was killed and 16 of his co-workers were injured when a Grad rocket missile launched by Hamas militias from Gaza exploded at a construction site in the town of Ashkelon, where the group worked. A third Israeli, Irit Sheetrit, aged 39, was killed the following day, on 29 December 2008 when another Grad rocket hit the centre of the town of Ashdod. As with the attack of the previous day, Hamas also claimed responsibility for the attack.
Amnesty International has repeatedly called on Hamas and all other Palestinian armed groups in Gaza to stop firing indiscriminate rockets against towns and villages in southern Israel, and continues to do so.20


Arms supplies to Israel



Israel is a significant manufacturer of conventional arms, falling within the top 10 of arms exporters in the world, but also relies on imports of military equipment, parts and technologies. For example, Merkava-4 tanks produced in Israel have used diesel engines assembled in the USA incorporating components produced in Germany.


Since 2001, the USA has been by far the major supplier of conventional arms to Israel based on the value of export deliveries of all conventional arms including government to government as well as private commercial sales. US foreign military sales to Israel have continued on a large scale (see Appendix 1). The US authorities reported to the UN that the USA commercially traded $1,313 million in "arms and ammunition" to Israel in the years from 2004 to 2007, of which $447 million was traded in 2007. Israel did not report this trade to the UN. These figures for US trade would normally exclude gifts of military equipment and associated or "dual use" equipment and technologies. In addition to this trade, the USA has provided large funding each year for Israel to procure arms despite US legislation that restricts such aid to consistently gross human rights violators.


Since 2002, during the Bush administration, Israel received over $21 billion in US military and security assistance, including $19 billion in direct military aid under the Pentagon's Foreign Military Financing (FMF) program. Put simply, Israel's military intervention in the Gaza Strip has been equipped to a large extent by US-supplied weapons, munitions and military equipment paid for with US taxpayers' money.


Section 502B of the Foreign Assistance Act stipulates that "no security assistance may be provided to any country the government of which engages in a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights" which includes "acts of torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment, prolonged detention without charges and trial, causing the disappearance of persons by the abduction and clandestine detention of those persons, and other flagrant denial of the right to life, liberty, or the security of person." Section 4 of the Arms Export Control Act authorizes the supply of US military equipment and training only for lawful purposes of internal security, "legitimate self-defense," or participation in United Nations peacekeeping operations or other operations consistent with the U.N. Charter. However, under the US Export Administration Act, security assistance may be provided if the President certifies that "extraordinary circumstances" exist, so Section 502B is circumvented. The Leahy Law, named after the senator who introduced the amendment to US legislation, prohibits the USA from providing most forms of security assistance to any military or police unit when there is "credible evidence" that members of the unit are committing gross human rights violations. Assistance can resume if the government in question takes "effective measures" and, under the Pentagon's interpretation of the law, if the foreign government filters out the "few bad apples" in that particular unit, security assistance can continue.


On 16 August 2007, the US and Israeli governments signed a 10-year agreement for the provision of $30 billion in US military aid. Full details of the package were not disclosed; however, it is reported to include a new generation of F-35 fighter jets, advanced bombs, and laser-guided missiles. This military aid package, amounting to $3 billion per year, represented a 25 percent increase of the US annual military aid appropriation to Israel of $2.4 billion. Israel was already the largest recipient in the world of US military aid before the proposed increase. Even after the start of the current conflict and reports of serious violations of international humanitarian law by the IDF in Gaza, the US authorities continued to authorize large consignments of US munitions, including white phosphorus munitions, to Israel.


Other major arms exporting states such as France, Germany and the UK have been exporting far less to Israel than the US since 2004 but nevertheless these exports appear significant. According to the EU's 2008 report on arms export licences, published in December for the 2007 calendar year and consolidating the accounts that Member States must annually submit, 18 EU Member States authorised a total of 1,018 such licences to Israel worth €199,409,348. France, Germany and Romania were the top three exporters. France issued export licences worth €126 million, Germany authorised €28 million and Romania €17 million. Export authorisations from states do not necessarily correspond to actual arms export data in any one year for a variety of reasons, but licence authorisations do show the willingness of governments of exporting States to equip Israel's armed forces. Actual annual arms export data from the EU to Israel until the end of 2007 are shown in the table below.


Under Criterion 2 of the EU Code of Conduct on Arms Exports, Member States are supposed to "deny an export licence if there is a clear risk that the proposed export might be used for internal repression" or "be used in the commission of serious violations of international humanitarian law". The term "internal repression" "includes, inter alia, torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment, summary or arbitrary executions, disappearances, arbitrary detentions and other major violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms as set out in relevant international human rights instruments, including the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights." Across the EU, only 28 export licences were refused as a result of human rights, internal security or regional stability reasons.


As a result of political pressure in some EU countries concerned about the conflict in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, nine EU states including Sweden now claim not to export any arms to Israel and states such as Italy and the UK have claimed to restrict their exports of conventional arms overall, but sometimes such exports to Israel consist of components or transit trade. Nonetheless export data show that such states have exported infantry weapons, military vehicles and components for arms sent to Israel.


Other significant suppliers of military equipment to Israel since 2001 are (in alphabetical order) Austria, Australia, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Romania, Serbia-Montenegro, the Slovak Republic, Slovenia, South Korea and Spain. The Netherlands and Greece have been major transit countries for military equipment sent to Israel. Albania, Bosnia-Herzogovina, Brazil, Colombia, and India are reported to have been in the top 20 commercial suppliers of arms and ammunition.



International obligations regarding conventional arms transfers
The UN Security Council, in Operative Provision 6 of Resolution 1860 (2009), of 8 January 2009, called on Member States "to intensify efforts to provide arrangements and guarantees in Gaza in order to ... prevent illicit trafficking in arms and ammunition..." According to the 1996 United Nations Guidelines for International Arms Transfers, the term "illicit arms trafficking is understood to cover that international trade in conventional arms, which is contrary to the laws of States and/or international law."21


The responsibility of all states to prohibit international arms transfers that will facilitate serious violations of international humanitarian law and human rights derives from their obligation not to participate in the internationally wrongful acts of another state. The principle is stated in Article 16 of the International Law Commission's Articles on Responsibility of States for Internationally Wrongful Acts22 in terms which reflect customary international law, binding on all States. Article 16 states: "A State which aids or assists another State in the commission of an internationally wrongful act by the latter is internationally responsible for doing so if: (a) that State does so with knowledge of the circumstances of the internationally wrongful act; and (b) the act would be internationally wrongful if committed by that State." General international law prohibits conduct that involves patterns of blatant abuse and complicity in such a pattern of blatant abuse. The expression "gross" or "serious" violation of human rights is commonly used to convey a sense of scale, evoking both the number of violations and the gravity of their consequences for the victims. It also suggests a measure of intent.



The table below shows the USA and EU suppliers of conventional arms to Israel, including government to government transfers and commercial sales -- up to the most recent period publicly available.


Actual Export of US and EU conventional military equipment to Israel for the period 2004 to 200723:




2004
2005
2006
2007
TOTAL
USA
USD
1,204,413,883
2,634,108,000
2,487,285,000
1,529,306,000
7,855,112,883
FMS
USD
1,203,995,000
1,523,885,000
1,285,861,000
1,269,031,000
5,282,772,000
DCS
USD
418,883,000
1,110,223,000
1,201,424,000
260,275,000
2,990,805,000







Bulgaria
EUR



249,445
249,445
Czech Republic
EUR
821,000
1,289,000
261,000
2,442,820
4,813,820
France
EUR
17,300,000
12,808,032
21,358,751
7,998,720
59,465,503
Germany
EUR
417,000
477,000
14,000
770,000
1,678,000
Greece
EUR

558,858
88,606
29,640
677,104
Italy
EUR
161,780
220,095
42,588
444,670
869,133
Netherlands
EUR

3,253,083


3,253,083
Poland
EUR

508,819


508,819
Romania
EUR
3,154,943
3,395,240
6,809,454
7,631,156
20,990,793
Slovakia
EUR

304,656
205,506

510,162
Slovenia
EUR
435,818
233,544
492,150
1,138,180
2,299,692
Spain
EUR
35,257
273,728
441,335
1,515,934
2,266,254
UK
GBP

582,071
3,572,788
6,315,960
10,470,819



This table shows actual exports of military equipment as reported by the USA and EU governments. The value of the deliveries is shown in the different currencies as reported. Statistics are compiled differently by states. There is no available data for 2008. This table has been compiled, with the exception of the USA, in alphabetical order of the countries named in the table.


Major commercial suppliers of infantry weapons, munitions and armoured vehicles, and aircraft to Israel


Based upon customs data submitted by states to the UN Commodity Trade Statistics Database (Comtrade) the US accounted for 95 percent of all commercial sales - which are those sales made directly to Israel by manufacturers to foreign recipients falling within the broad UN customs category 891 of "arms and ammunition" between 2004 and 2007 amounting to a total recorded value of over US$1.3 billion. Other major suppliers in this category were Serbia and Montenegro (in 2004), Poland, Romania, Serbia (since 2005), South Korea, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Finland and Austria.
The table below shows the top 20 arms suppliers to Israel by value in US$ according to this UN customs category of "arms and ammunition", code 891. UN data is not yet available for 2008.
Top 20 Arms and Ammunition Deliveries to Israel between
2004-2007 measured in US$
USA
1,312,909,556
Serbia and Montenegro (2004 only)
8,626,560
Poland
7,455,679
Romania
6,757,241
Serbia24
6,331,138
Korea, South
5,864,486
Slovakia
5,415,005
Czech Republic
4,491,753
Finland
4,138,731
Austria
4,015,987
Italy
3,187,896
Brazil
1,983,166
Bosnia-Herzogovina
1,880,499
Germany
1,531,000
Colombia
1,496,192
Albania
1,255,415
India
1,052,680
Spain
952,725
Netherlands
784,714
UK
754,367
Canada
707,384







A note on UN Comtrade data
No useful information is submitted by States to the UN Comtrade database on the quantity or exact types of military equipment or munitions transferred. The only indicator of the size of the shipment(s) is the value in US$. Also, not all States report or report reliably to the UN and do not necessarily report their trade statistics for each and every year. However, UN Comtrade data can be used to ask governments about the exact nature of these deliveries, what equipment they exactly covered, what quantity, who the end-user is and what is the intended end-use. Nonetheless, the UN data does show which States are the main suppliers of arms to Israel.


Aircraft and Helicopters

Over the years, the US has also supplied Israel with US-made F-16 combat aircraft, Apache AH-64 helicopters and Black Hawk UH-60 combat helicopters.25


According to the most recent data available submitted to the UN Register on Conventional Arms by the US government, during 2007 the US exported to Israel one M577A2 Command armoured combat vehicle; 18 F-16D combat aircraft; and 50 LAU-129 A/A launcher missile launchers.26In 2006, the USA exported to Israel 21 F16 aircraft in 2006 and 42 Bell AH-1F Cobra.27The Bell AH-1F Cobra gunship incorporates the 2.75 inch rockets fired from 7-tube M158, 19-tube M200, 7-tube M-260, or 19-tube M261 rocket pods, the M65 TOW28missile system and the M197 20mm gun.29


Tanks and other armoured fighting vehicles

According to the UN Comtrade database the following countries are the top five suppliers of equipment under the category of 'tanks and other armoured fighting vehicles' code 89111.


Top 5 suppliers of armoured fighting vehicles between 2004-2007 in US$


USA
540,900,776
Romania
5,819,346
Slovakia
901,676
Korea, South
530,775
Kazakhstan
197,861



Ammunition

According to the UN Comtrade database, the US was the largest commercial supplier of "munitions of war" under the code 89129 to Israel between 2004-2007 with US$480 million - 98% of all commercial sales in this category.


Top 10 deliveries of 'munitions' 2004-2007 in US$
USA
480,814,850
Finland
4,093,348
Korea, South
4,048,761
Germany
823,000
Serbia30
760,635
Poland
393,587
[align=left]Albania[/al...
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