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Urge GAO Investigation of Israeli Violation of Arms Export Control Act

July 25th, 2002

BACKGROUND

Late Monday night, July 22, Israel bombed an apartment building in a crowded residential neighbourhood in Gaza City. The attack, in which a US-build and US-financed F-16 fighter jet dropped a one-ton bomb, was ostensibly aimed at killing an alleged Hamas leader, but the bombing killed at least 17 Palestinians, most of whom were less than 11 years old, and wounded more than 150. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon called the strike "a great success." President Bush remained almost silent, reserving his strongest condemnations of terror for Palestinians alone, and calling the Israeli attack only "heavy-handed." But even White House spokesperson Ari Fleischer admitted that it was "a deliberate attack against a building in which civilians were known to be located" and that it was done with the knowledge "that innocents would be lost." This is tantamount to an admission that the attack violated the U.S. Arms Export Control Act [U.S. Public Law 90-829], which prohibits the use of U.S. weapons against civilian targets. On July 23, two Members of Congress sent a letter to President Bush expressing their "condemnation of this attack in the strongest possible terms" and requesting an explanation as to whether this attack constitutes a violation of U.S. law.

ACTION

Call your two Senators and Representative in the House and strongly urge them to request that the Government Accounting Office (GAO) investigate whether Monday night's attack on Gaza City constitutes a violation of the U.S. Arms Export Control Act [US Public Law 90-829]. The request should focus specifically on the use of US-provided F-16 as well as other US-provided military equipment in this most recent attack, and not Israeli attacks on civilians in general. [The General Accounting Office is the investigative arm of Congress. GAO examines the use of public funds and provides analyses and legal opinions to help the Congress make effective oversight, policy, and funding decisions.] To contact your Senators, call the Senate Switchboard at (202) 224-3121, or visit http://www.congress.org and enter your zip code. To contact your Representative, call the House Switchboard at (202) 225-3121 or visit http://www.congress.org and enter your zip code.

TALKING POINTS

1) Late Monday night, July 22, Israel launched a missile strike on an apartment building in a crowded residential neighbourhood in Gaza City. The attack, in which a U.S.-provided F-16 fighter jet dropped a one-ton bomb, killed at least 17 Palestinians, most of whom were less than 11 years old, and wounded more than 150. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon called the strike "a great success." The attack came just 90 minutes after a meeting, verified by European diplomats, of Palestinian factions preparing to announce a unilateral halt in attacks on Israeli civilians. 2) White House Spokesperson Ari Fleischer described the missile strike as "a deliberate attack against a building in which civilians were known to be located" and that it was done with the knowledge "that innocents would be lost." 3) The U.S. Arms Export Control Act (U.S. Public Law 90-829) prohibits the use of U.S. weapons against civilian targets. The provisions of U.S. law must be enforced, without regard to which country seemingly violated them. 4) On July 23, two Members of Congress sent a letter to President Bush expressing their "condemnation of this attack in the strongest possible terms" and requesting an explanation as to whether this attack constitutes a violation of U.S. law. 5) I strongly urge the Senator or Representative to request formally that the GAO investigate and report on whether Monday's attack constitutes a violation of the U.S. Arms Export Control Act. NOTE: Members of Congress might point out that Palestinians have also deliberately attacked Israeli civilians. If so, please use the following talking point: 6) Palestinian attacks against Israeli civilians are equally appalling and condemnable. However, the weapons used in these attacks are not provided by the United States. As a taxpayer, I am concerned that my money is being used to provide Israel with weapons that are being used in violation of U.S. law.