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Israel Obtained US Arms Without White House, State Department OK: WSJ

Paper describes mounting tensions between two nations, holdup on Hellfire missiles request

Israel Defense Forces near the Gaza border on July 16. (Photo: IDF/CC BY-SA 2.0)

Israel obtained arms from the Pentagon without the knowledge of the White House or State Department, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

The newspaper reports that this marks one in "a string of slights and arguments that have bubbled behind the scenes during the Gaza conflict" between the two nations, citing U.S., Israeli and Palestinian officials.

The arms in question came as a result of a July 20 request from Israel to the U.S. military for $3 million in tank rounds. That request was approved days later by the US military, which defense officials describe as proper procedure, the paper reported.

The Journal reports one unnamed U.S. diplomat as saying, "We were blindslided" upon learning of the arms supply on July 30, the same day as an Israeli strike hit a United Nations school in Jabaliya.

Further weapons transfers in this context needed approval by policy makers in the White House and State Department, the paper cites U.S. officials as saying. The Journal cites an an unnamed senior administration official as saying this amounted to the administration saying, "Wait a second…It's not OK anymore."

This point speaks to what author and scholar Norman Finkelstein told Democracy Now! earlier this month. He said that Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

... launched the ground invasion for reasons which—no point in going into now—and inflicted massive death and destruction on Gaza, where the main enabler was, of course, President Obama. Each day he came out, he or one of his spokespersons, and said, "Israel has the right to defend itself." Each time he said that, it was the green light to Israel that it can continue with its terror bombing of Gaza. That went on for day after day after day, schools, mosques, hospitals targeted. But then you reached a limit. The limit was when Israel started to target the U.N. shelters—targeted one shelter, there was outrage; targeted a second shelter, there was outrage. And now the pressure began to build up in the United Nations. This is a United Nations—these are U.N. shelters. And the pressure began to build up. It reached a boiling point with the third shelter. And then Ban Ki-moon, the comatose secretary-general of the United Nations and a U.S. puppet, even he was finally forced to say something, saying these are criminal acts. Obama was now cornered. He was looking ridiculous in the world. It was a scandal. Even the U.N. secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, was now calling it a criminal act. So finally Obama, the State Department said "unacceptable," "deplorable." And frankly, it’s exactly what happened in 1999 in Timor: The limits had been reached, Clinton said to the Indonesian army, "Time to end the massacre." And exactly happened now: Obama signaled to Netanyahu the terror bombing has to stop. So, Obama—excuse me, Netanyahu had reached the limit of international tolerance, which basically means the United States.

Included in Israel's arms request to the Defense Department was "a large number of Hellfire missiles," the Journal reports U.S. and Israeli officials as saying. The Pentagon immediately put the request on hold.


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But that hold on arms for Israel to use should cause no cheering, according to author and Electronic Intifada co-founder Ali Abunimah.

Abunimah took to Twitter on Thursday to offer this commentary:

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