Complicit in genocide: Where Israel gets its weapons from

Ramzy Baroud
Sunday 31 Mar 2024

Almost every time a Western country announces that it has suspended arms exports to Israel, a news headline appears shortly afterward indicating the opposite – a matter that has frequently repeated.


Over 9,000 Palestinian women have been killed since the start of the Israeli war in the Gaza Strip. Mothers have been the largest share of Israeli killings, with an average of 37 mothers per day since 7 October. 

These numbers from the Palestinian health ministry in Gaza and the Red Crescent Society, respectively, only convey part of the suffering experienced by 2.3 million Palestinians in the strip. 

Every single section of the Palestinian society has paid a heavy price for the war. However, women and children are the ones who suffered the most, constituting over 70 percent of all victims of the ongoing Israeli genocide. 

Although these women and their children were killed at the hands of Israeli soldiers, they were murdered with US-Western supplied weapons. 

Now, however, we are being told that the world is finally turning against Israel and that the West's nod of approval to Tel Aviv to carry on with its daily massacres may soon turn into a collective snub. 

This was best expressed in the 23 March cover of The Economist magazine when it showed a tattered Israeli flag, attached to a stick, planted in an arid, dusty land, and accompanied by the headline "Israel Alone." 

The image was meant to serve as a sign of the times. Its profundity becomes even more obvious if compared to a previous cover, from the same magazine, soon after the Israeli military conquered massive Arab territories in the June 1967 war.

"They did it," the headline, back then, read.

It pictured an Israeli military tank in the background, illustrating the West-funded Israeli triumph. 

Between the two headlines much, in the world and in the Middle East, has changed.

But to claim that Israel now stands alone is entirely inaccurate, at least not yet. 

Though many of Israel's traditional Western allies are openly disowning its behavior in Gaza, weapons from various Western and non-Western countries continue to flow, feeding the war machine as it continues to harvest more Palestinian lives. 

This compels the question: Does Israel truly stand alone when its airports and seaports are busier than ever receiving massive weapon shipments coming from all directions? Not in the least.

In 2023, Rome declared it was blocking all arms sales to Israel. This gave a false hope that some Western countries were finally experiencing a moral awakening. 

However, on 14 March, Reuters quoted the Italian Defense Minister Guido Crosetto as saying “shipments of weapons to Israel are continuing.”

He based this on the flimsy logic that previously signed deals would have to be “honored.” 

On 19 May, Canada also announced, following a parliamentary motion, that it had suspended arms exports. 

The celebration among those advocating an end to the genocide in Gaza was just getting started when, a day later, Ottawa practically reversed the decision by announcing that it, too, has to honor previous commitments. 

This illustrates that some Western countries, which continue to impart their unsolicited wisdom about human rights, women’s rights, and democracy on the rest of the world, have no genuine respect for any of these values. 

Canada and Italy are not the largest military supporters of Israel. The US and Germany are. 

Between 2013 and 2022, Israel received 68 percent of its weapons from the US and 28 percent from Germany, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

The Germans remain unperturbed, even though five percent of the total population of Gaza has been killed, wounded, or missing due to the Israeli war. 

However, the American support for Israel is far greater, although the Biden administration is still sending messages to its constituency – most of whom want the war to stop – that the president is doing his best to pressure Israel to end the war.

Though only two approved military sales to Israel have been announced publicly since 7 October, the two shipments represent only two percent of the total US arms sent to Israel. 

The news was revealed by the Washington Post on 6 March, when US media was reporting on a widening rift between US President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. 

“That’s an extraordinary number of sales over a pretty short amount of time,” a former senior Biden administration official told the Post.

Jeremy Konyndyk reached the obvious conclusion that the “Israeli campaign would not be sustainable without this level of US support.”

For decades, the US military support for Israel has been the highest anywhere in the world.

Starting 2016, this unconditional support exponentially increased during the Obama administration to reach $3.8 billion per year. 

Immediately after 7 October, the weapons shipments to Israel reached unprecedented levels.

They included a 2,000-pound bomb known as 5,000 MK-84 munitions that Israel has used to kill hundreds of innocent Palestinians. 

Despite Washington’s frequent allegations to be looking into Israel's use of its weapons, it turned out that Biden knew very well that “Israel was regularly bombing buildings without solid intelligence that they were legitimate military targets,” according to the Post.

Israel now, somehow, “stands alone,” only because of its behavior that is rejected by most world countries. Yet, it is hardly alone when its war crimes are being executed with Western support and arms.  

For the Israeli genocide in Gaza to end, those who continue to sustain the ongoing bloodbath must also be held accountable. 


*The writer is a journalist and the editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of six books. His latest book, co-edited with Ilan Pappé, is “Our Vision for Liberation: Engaged Palestinian Leaders and Intellectuals Speak Out.” His other books include “My Father Was a Freedom Fighter” and “The Last Earth.” He is a non-resident senior research fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA). Here is his website:


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