As Gaza Reels Under Attack, U.S. Approves Artillery Ammo Sale to Israel Bypassing Congressional Review

Nearly all of Gaza's 2.3 million residents are displaced and over 20,000 have been killed since Hamas attacked Israel on October 7, 2023.
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  • 05:22 AM, December 30, 2023
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As Gaza Reels Under Attack, U.S. Approves Artillery Ammo Sale to Israel Bypassing Congressional Review
Israeli artillery guns in Gaza. @Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor

Bypassing Congressional review, the U.S. Secretary of State has approved a potential Foreign Military Sale to the Government of Israel, encompassing M107 155mm projectiles and related equipment, at an estimated cost of $147.5 million.

The Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) delivered the required certification to Congress today, notifying them of this potential sale.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken approved the sale, bypassing Congressional review, citing an existing emergency as the rationale for the immediate sale to Israel. The M107 is a 155mm caliber artillery projectile utilized in various artillery systems, including U.S.-made M777 howitzers, M109 Paladin self-propelled howitzers, Germany’s PzH 2000 self-propelled howitzer, and South Korean K9 Thunder.

Israel specifically requested 155mm ancillaries, including fuzes, primers, and charges, to be added to previously implemented cases. This amendment increases the total case value above notification thresholds, necessitating the notification of the entire case. The original Foreign Military Sales (FMS) cases, initially valued at $96.51 million, included 4,792 rounds of M107 155mm artillery ammunition (MDE), 52,229 rounds of M795 155mm artillery ammunition (non-MDE), and 30,000 M4 propelling charges (non-MDE). Additionally, it comprised publications, associated technical documentation, and logistics support services, all of which have been subsequently delivered. The revised estimated total cost for this sale is now $147.5 million.

The Secretary of State has determined and presented detailed justification to Congress, asserting that an "emergency exists," mandating the immediate sale of the aforementioned defense articles and services to the Government of Israel. This action waives the Congressional review requirements under Section 36(b) of the Arms Export Control Act, as amended.

Emphasizing the commitment to the security of Israel, the United States asserts that aiding Israel in developing and maintaining a robust and ready self-defense capability aligns with U.S. national interests. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) emphasized these objectives in its official press release today.  It is underscored that all countries should employ munitions in accordance with international humanitarian law.

The 155mm artillery ammunition for this sale will be provided from U.S. Army stock.

As Gaza Reels Under Attack, U.S. Approves Artillery Ammo Sale to Israel Bypassing Congressional Review
155mm artillery ammuniton

Meanwhile, Israel's intensified attacks in central and southern Gaza have forced tens of thousands of Palestinians into the southern city of Rafah, causing the population to surpass 850,000, as per United Nations figures. The surge has led people to construct makeshift shelters in any available space, with some resorting to sleeping in cars or in the open. Water sources are contaminated, the sanitation system has collapsed, and functioning toilets are scarce. Philippe Lazzarini, head of UNRWA, the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees, highlighted the severe dependence on international aid for Gaza's entire population, including food.

Despite a recent U.N. resolution urging an immediate and unimpeded increase in aid entry, there has been no observed rise, according to Lazzarini. Aid distribution within Gaza faces obstacles due to continuous bombardment, fighting, Israeli military checkpoints, telecommunication disruptions, and overwhelming crowds seizing supplies.

Israel's military continues airstrikes and ground operations targeting Hamas in northern, central, and southern Gaza. Reports from Palestinians cite overnight strikes in the Nuseirat and Maghazi refugee camps, along with heavy fighting in the Bureij refugee camp.

As Gaza Reels Under Attack, U.S. Approves Artillery Ammo Sale to Israel Bypassing Congressional Review
Palestinian Victims of Israeli Christmas eve massacre in Gaza @Al Jazeera

Twelve weeks after Hamas militants entered southern Israel, causing significant casualties and hostage situations, Israeli forces have extensively damaged Gaza. Nearly all of its 2.3 million residents are displaced. Gaza's Hamas-run health ministry reported 187 Palestinians killed in Israeli airstrikes in the past 24 hours, bringing the toll since October to 21,507, roughly 1% of Gaza's population. Many more casualties are feared beneath the rubble of obliterated neighborhoods, and almost 56,000 civilians have been wounded by Israeli attacks since October.

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