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Israel Misuses U.S. Weapons against Palestinians: Case Study of F-16 Fighter Jets

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Photo credit: U.S. Department of Defense

From 2000 to 2009, the United States paid for and delivered at least 93 F-16D fighter jets, valued at $2.48 billion, to Israel through the Foreign Military Sales program. During that decade, the United States also licensed and paid for at least 13,559 spare parts and co-production parts for Israel’s arsenal of F-16s through the Direct Commercial Sales program. These F-16 parts were valued at $219.8 million.

(Source: US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, here and here.)

The use of weapons provided to countries through these weapons transfer programs is subject to strict limitations under the Arms Export Control Act. These weapons can be used only for “legitimate self-defense” and “internal security.”

Initial reports of Israel’s November 2012 attack on the Palestinian Gaza Strip indicate that Israel used its arsenal of U.S.-made F-16 fighter jets in several incidents in which Palestinian civilians were injured and killed, civilian homes were damaged or destroyed, and other Palestinian infrastructure was targeted.

Under U.S. law, Congress and the State Department are required to call for and initiate an investigation of Israel’s potential violations of the Arms Export Control Act. The US Campaign calls upon the U.S. government to do so and to hold Israel accountable for violating U.S. law by ending U.S. military aid to Israel.

Below are some incidents in which reports indicate that Israel used F-16 fighter jets to commit human rights abuses of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.       

* On Thursday, November 15, The New York Times reported that a U.S.-made F-16 fighter jet flown by the Israeli military damaged the home of Saed Shabat in Beit Hanoun, killing two people and injuring 15. 

(Source: The New York Times)

* On Friday, November 16, The Guardian reported that 75-year-old Radwan Abu El-Khamsan was hospitalized after a U.S.-made F-16 fighter jet flown by the Israeli military fired a missile at a taxi in which he and his brother were riding. According to Harriet Sherwood:

“The explosion killed his brother, created a two-metre crater in the road and caused nearby buildings to collapse. Abu El-Khamsan was dug out from the rubble and rushed to the Shifa hospital with a broken pelvis and internal bleeding.”

(Source: The Guardian)

* On Sunday, November 18, The Nation reported that U.S.-made F-16 fighter jets flown by the Israeli military fired missiles at the Jabalya refugee camp. Shrapnel from these missiles killed 4-year-old Mahmoud Sadallah. According to Mohammed Omer:

“The child was playing on the stoop of his home, well away from the main street. With emergency services strained, in a panic the young boy’s mother scooped him up and ran through the smoke-enshrouded streets, dodging dust and flames, screaming hysterically for help as blood poured out of Mahmoud’s head.”

20-year-old Ayman Abu Warda also was killed by the same missile, which also injured 12-year-old Fares Sadallah, his uncle’s wife and four other children. Another missile fired from an F-16 at the Jabalya refugee camp critically injured 13-year-old Munir Ahmed whose body was “riddled with shrapnel.”

(Source: The Nation)   

* On Sunday, November 18, at approximately 2:30pm, a U.S.-made F-16 fighter jet flown by the Israeli military fired a missile at a 4-story home belonging to the al-Dalu family, according to an investigation conducted by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR).

According to PCHR:

“3 families comprising 11 individuals live in the house, which is situated opposite to Bank of Palestine in al-Nasser Street in the north of Gaza City. The house was completely destroyed with residents inside. As a result, 8 members of the family (4 children and 4 women) were killed; the Civil Defense crews have removed their bodies from the debris. The victims include a mother and her 4 children. The victims whose bodies have been found and identified are:

1- Samah Abdul Hamid al-Dalu, 27;

2- Jamal Mohammed Jamal al-Dalu, 6;

3- Yousef Mohammed Jamal al-Dalu, 4;

4- Sarah Mohammed Jamal al-Dalu, 7;

5- Ibrahim Mohammed Jamal al-Dalu, 1;

6- Tahani Hassan al-Dalu, 52;

7- Suhaila Mahmoud al-Dalu, 73; and

8- Raneen Jamal al-Dalu, 22.

Rescue crews are still searching for 2 members of the family who are still missing: Yara Jamal Mahmoud al-Dalu, 17; and Mohammed Jamal Mahmoud al-Dalu, 29. As a result of this violent attack, several nearby houses were destroyed, including one that belongs to the al-Muzannar family where 2 civilians, including an old woman, were killed:

1- Ameena Matar al-Mauzannar, 75; and

2- Abdullah Mohammed al-Muzannar, 19.

Additionally, 9 civilians, including 2 children and 3 women, were wounded in the attack.”

(Source: Palestinian Centre for Human Rights)

* On Monday, November 19, at approximately 3:00am, a U.S.-made F-16 fighter jet flown by the Israeli military fired a missile at a 4-story home belonging to the Azzam family in the al-Zaytoun neighborhood in the east of Gaza City. Five houses were destroyed in the missile attack. According to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights: 

“4 civilians, including 3 members of the same family (2 women and 1 child) were killed:

1- Sahar Fadi Abu Zour, 20;

2- Nisma Helmi Abu Zour, 21;

3- Mohammed Eyad Abu Zour, 5; and

4- Aahed Hamdi al-Qatati, 34.”

(Source: Palestinian Centre for Human Rights)

* On Monday night, November 19, a U.S.-made F-16 fighter jet flown by the Israeli military dropped a bomb on a house in Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip, killing Fowad Khalil Hijazi, 46, and two of his children, Mohamed, age 3, and Suhaib, 2.

(Source: The New York Times)

* On Tuesday, November 20, a U.S.-made F-16 fighter jet flown by the Israeli military bombed the Islamic National Bank in a residential neighborhood of Gaza City, injuring four civilians.

(Source: Al Jazeera)

If you know of an additional incident in which a specific U.S. weapon was used by Israel to commit a specific human rights violation against Palestinians, then please let us know about it.