The Guardian: The story of the secret US weapons stockpile in Israel


According to the Guardian newspaper, which published a report revealing details about the huge US weapons stockpile in Israel, and how the Israeli War on Gaza since the seventh of last October revealed these weapons, valued at billions of dollars, and owned by the US army.

The Guardian report says that there are weapons depots in Israel whose exact locations are unknown, but they are heavily guarded, and contain ammunition and weapons owned by the US government, worth billions of dollars.

The existence of these warehouses has been shrouded in secrecy for a long time, and they are part of huge weapons stocks that little was known about before, but the spotlight has now shone on them after they were exposed in the ongoing Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip, and in light of mounting pressure on the administration of US President Joe Biden, which opened the doors of these warehouses to the Israeli army.

These warehouses were first established in the 1980s, and their purpose was to provide rapid supply of weapons to the United States if it participated in any conflict in the Middle East.

However, what happened after that was that Israel was allowed to exploit these huge stockpiles of weapons on occasion.

Former US officials familiar with American military aid to Israel said that the availability of these warehouses in Israel allows the IDF (Israeli army) to take weapons from them in large quantities and quickly transfer them to its forces, in addition to that this availability can be relied upon to withhold American arms movements from public and Congressional oversight.

A former senior Pentagon official said, “Officially, this is an American equipment, intended for American use, but on the other hand, who can claim that we won’t give them (the Israelis) the keys to these warehouses in an emergency?”

Fears have increased about the effects of indiscriminate Israeli bombing, especially since the health authorities in Gaza announced that the Israeli raids have resulted in the death of more than 21,000 people so far, the vast majority of whom are children and women.

Thus, the United States has become exposed to accountability regarding the quantities of bombs it supplied to Israel, and the types of these bombs, and the amount of weapons that Israel obtained from its secret US warehouses.

While representatives in the US Congress raised concerns about the White House’s requests aimed at easing restrictions imposed on the types of weapons stored in these warehouses, exceeding spending limits on renewing them, and reducing the restrictions imposed on the Pentagon in supplying other parties with ammunition and weapons from this arsenal.

Josh Paul, an official who recently resigned from the US State Department in protest against Washington’s continued sending of lethal weapons to Israel in the war on Gaza, said that the changes requested by the Biden administration regarding the restrictions imposed on dealing with this stockpile came in the context of the administration’s efforts to research about other means of supplying weapons to Israel.

Describing internal US deliberations on the Issue last October, Paul said, “There was pressure from the White House to investigate all possible (legal) avenues and authorized authorities that could be invoked to supply weapons to Israel as quickly as possible”.

The US authorities haven’t previously revealed the full contents of these warehouses, known as the “Allied-Israel War Reserve Stockpile,” although former officials said that the Pentagon provides Congress with an annual report on the munitions and weapons stored there.

This report may fall under the classification of confidentiality, but according to information revealed in the media this year, a former US military commander provided unusually frank information about the content of these warehouses.

He said, “The current stock is full of so-called stupid munitions (that don’t contain advanced guidance systems), including thousands of unguided (iron bombs) dropped by aircraft, and their random direction is left to gravity”.

In 2020, the Jewish Institute for National Security of America, a pro-Israel think tank, spoke about this spate of the so-called “stupid munitions” deposited with Israel and said it was outdated, because most of them are unguided bombs, and there are few precision-guided munitions.

However, in its bombing of the Gaza Strip, Israel used these unguided munitions in large quantities, and weapons experts said that this undermines the Israeli army’s claims that its forces seek to reduce civilian casualties.

Israel, on the other hand, didn’t deny its use of unguided munitions, and its air force repeatedly posted pictures of its attacks with “stupid bombs”, such as M117 bombs, on social media.

It’s still unknown how many times Israel used unguided M117 bombs and where they were used, but US intelligence estimates published by CNN indicate that 40% to 45% of the bombs Israel used in the bombing of Gaza were unguided bombs.

The Pentagon, however, didn’t respond to questions about the amount of unguided munitions that Israel took from its American warehouses.

“We’ll provide Israel with all the air-ground munitions it needs,” said a former senior US official, but Israel already has its own locally produced supply of unguided munitions, unlike the guided munitions that it obtains mostly from the United States.

Military analysts said that there is little information about the types of weapons that the United States provides to Israel from the war reserve stock, and their quantities.

According to Axios website (American) revealed in October that the United States will supply Israel with 155-millimeter artillery shells, and these ammunition are available in large quantities in American war reserve warehouses in Israel.

Mark Garlasco, a former UN war crimes investigator, said that 155-millimeter shells are extremely dangerous, with one shell releasing 2,000 deadly fragments, and the greater the distance the shell travels, the less accurate it’s, which increases the possibility of hitting civilians and infrastructure; Civilian infrastructure with faulty shells.

Last month, the Gaza Police Explosive Ordnance Disposal Team published photos showing fragments of 155 mm shells.

It’s not known whether the United States sent these munitions to Israel during the war, or whether Israel obtained them from its US warehouses after the approval of the US administration.

Sarah Harrison, a former Pentagon lawyer, said that Israel holds and pays for the US war reserve stockpile, but its access to that stockpile is restricted by certain rules.

She pointed out that the United States doesn’t have other warehouses like this except in South Korea, and the goal is for weapons to be available for transfer quickly if the need arises, but the presence of these warehouses in Israel doesn’t mean that it can obtain weapons from them whenever it wants, or Without restrictions.

Indeed, there are legal rules governing the transfer of ammunition and equipment from these warehouses.

Josh Paul, a former US State Department official, said he was concerned about accelerating arms transfers to Israel, because they might have bypassed State Department controls.

He said, “These operations weren’t subject to review related to the rules of respect for human rights, nor the rules of regional balance, nor the usual rules for transferring conventional weapons, but rather, the issue was like this… Take what you want, and we will adjust matters later”.

A Pentagon spokesman acknowledged that the Pentagon has used foreign military financing and its sales authority to expedite the delivery of security assistance, when available.

He said that the United States has used various means and sources to provide security assistance to Israel, including stockpiles in Israel and the United States.

Experts said that the haste and ambiguity that characterized the arms transfers to Israel make it more difficult to determine the amount of weapons that Israel took from the US war reserve stock, and the extent of compliance with the legal mechanisms in these procedures, as well as the extent to which US Congress is aware of the amount of aid that the United States has provided to Israel from this stock.

Moreover, the White House is now seeking to ease rules on transferring weapons from the war reserve stockpile, and senators said the move weakens their ability to determine whether US aid is being used to cause unwarranted harm to civilians.

According to Brian Finucane, a former legal advisor at the US State Department, Israel isn’t currently subject to many of the procedural conditions that are supposed to be adhered to in a partnership with the US Department of Defense, and therefore the release of any other restrictions is cause for concern, because it may contribute to more inflaming the ongoing conflict in the Middle East.

Finucane wondered, denouncing, “Does sending these weapons make sense from a strategic standpoint? Does adding more gas to the fire meet with US national interests, or achieve peace and stability in the region?”

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