It remains to be seen whether the U.S. will agree to sell precision-guided bombs to Israel, now that the latter has agreed to a ceasefire to end the bloody 11-day war.
The contract valued $735 million met with much opposition following intense clashes in the Gaza strip with Palestinian groups including Hamas and Islamic Jihad that has left over 200 people dead and injured hundreds more.
On Thursday, Israel and Hamas agreed to a ceasefire. People went out of their homes, some shouting “Allahu Akbar” or whistling from balconies. Many fired in the air, celebrating the truce.
The latest round of fighting ended inconclusively with both sides claiming victory. While Israel says it inflicted heavy damage on Hamas, it failed to halt nonstop rocket barrages even with the Iron Dome and innumerable air strikes. On the flipside, most casualties were on the Palestinian side.
Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives introduced a measure on Wednesday to block the proposed sale to Israel. The country intends to buy Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAMs), many of which it has already bought. In 2018, the US Department of Defence approved a $1.8 billion deal for both JDAM kits and the bombs they attach to. These kits transform so-called “dumb” bombs into precision-guided missiles.
"For decades, the U.S. has sold billions of dollars in weaponry to Israel without ever requiring them to respect basic Palestinian rights. In so doing, we have directly contributed to the death, displacement and disenfranchisement of millions," Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said in a statement. "At a time when so many, including President Biden, support a cease-fire, we should not be sending ‘direct attack' weaponry to Prime Minister Netanyahu to prolong this violence."
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., mirrored Ocasio-Cortez’s views. On Thursday he said he would introduce a resolution disapproving the sale to Israel. “At a moment when U.S.-made bombs are devastating Gaza, and killing women and children, we cannot simply let another huge arms sale go through without even a Congressional debate,” Sanders said in a statement.
“I believe that the United States must help lead the way to a peaceful and prosperous future for both Israelis and Palestinians. We need to take a hard look at whether the sale of these weapons is actually helping do that, or whether it is simply fueling conflict."
With the two sides agreeing to turn swords into ploughshares, the U.S. could go ahead with the deal since it considers Israel an important Middle East ally. Washington has also promised to maintain Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge (QME). For the same reason, it did not move forward with the sale of F-35 jets and MQ-9 combat drones to the U.A.E. until the Abraham Accords pact was signed.