A half-dozen House Progressives introduced a bill Thursday to block a $320 million arms sale to Israel amid the war with Hamas in Gaza.
The measure, led by Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), would revoke the export license of a specific type of guided bomb kit approved for sale to Israel months before the Oct. 7 start of the war in Gaza.
It is co-sponsored by Reps. Cori Bush (D-Mo.), Summer Lee (D-Pa.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Delia Ramirez (D-Ill.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), all of whom have criticized U.S. support for the Israeli military in the conflict.
Israeli Prime Minister “Benjamin Netanyahu and his far-right ethnonationalist government continue to commit war crimes in their siege of the Gaza Strip,” Omar said in a statement. “From requests to minimize civilian casualties, avoid a ground invasion, avoid reoccupation of Gaza, and institute a meaningful humanitarian pause, Netanyahu continues to thumb his nose at U.S. policy and requests.”
“The United States already provides the Israeli government with $3.8 billion of military aid a year, and holds enormous leverage over their actions. It is the responsibility of Congress to exercise oversight over weapons sales,” she continued. “That is why we must not allow weapons sales that will be used to directly violate U.S. and international law, human rights, and our own moral standing in the world.”
Spice Family gliding bomb assemblies are a kit that can turn an unguided bomb into a GPS-guided munition. The State Department notified Congress that the transfer of the kits would go forward on Oct. 31, The Wall Street Journal first reported.
In the sale, munitions manufacturer Rafael USA would transfer the bombs to its Israeli parent company Rafael Advanced Defense Systems for use by the Israeli military. Congress approved a $402 million transfer of the same weapons systems to Israel in 2020, according to the Journal.
Omar has been one of the loudest voices in Congress against U.S. military support for Israel amid the war. She has called for a total cease-fire in the conflict, alongside other progressives led by Bush, which the Biden administration and Israeli leaders have rejected.
President Biden and his administration have pressed Israeli leaders to better consider civilian casualties amid Israel’s ground invasion of Gaza, as well as allow longer “humanitarian pauses” in fighting in order to assist civilians.
The war in Gaza began early last month after Hamas militants launched a brutal surprise attack on border communities in Israel, killing 1,200 people. The ongoing Israeli air strike and ground campaign has killed over 11,100 Palestinians, including over 4,600 children, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry.
The Israeli military demanded that Gazans evacuate parts of southern Gaza on Thursday, expanding previous evacuation demands and raising concerns that the conflict could expand across the Middle East as tensions rise.
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Author: Nick Robertson