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Omar: 'Appalling' for US to move forward with arms sale to Israel

Wednesday May 19, 2021

© Bonnie Cash

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) said Monday it would be “appalling” for the Biden administration to proceed with a planned precision-guided munitions sale to Israel amid its ongoing conflict with Gaza.

“It would be appalling for the Biden administration to go through with $735 million in precision-guided weaponry to Netanyahu without any strings attached in the wake of escalating violence and attacks on civilians,” Omar said in a statement, referring to the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“If this goes through this will be seen as a green light for continued escalation and will undercut any attempts at brokering a ceasefire,” added Omar, one of the first Muslim women elected to Congress.

The Biden administration at the beginning of the month notified lawmakers that it approved a $735 million arms sale to Israel, mostly of Boeing-made Joint Direct Attack Munitions that can turn so-called “dumb” bombs into precision-guided missiles, a congressional aide confirmed to The Hill.

The notification set off a 15-day congressional review period in which lawmakers could block the sale. But that window is all but closed now. There are four days left in the review period, and any resolution of disapproval has to sit in committee for 10 day before someone can force a vote to bring it to the floor.

The approval for the arms sale came five days before Hamas, the militant group that controls the Gaza Strip, began firing rockets toward Israel in response to Israeli police action at Al-Aqsa Mosque, one of the holiest sites in Islam. But it is now eliciting scrutiny amid the escalating violence.

The crisis, now in its second week, is the worst between the two sides since 2014.

The rocket fire from Hamas has been met with Israeli airstrikes that have killed nearly 200 Palestinians, including more than 50 children, and leveled several Gaza City buildings, including one hit over the weekend that also housed employees for The Associated Press and Al Jazeera.

Hamas’s rockets, meanwhile, have overwhelmed Israel’s Iron Dome defense system and killed at least 10 Israelis, including two children.

In her statement on the arms sale, Omar said the United States “should not stand idly by while crimes against humanity are being committed with our backing.”

“The violence in Israel and the Gaza Strip is spiraling out of control,” she said, blaming “far right ethnonationalist” Netanyahu for the casualties in Gaza. “And he is doing so with direct funding and military assistance from the United States of America.”

Omar also called out Hamas’s “indiscriminate” attacks, saying “to be clear, this is also a war crime.”

“We should be standing unequivocally and consistently on the side of human rights—holding all state and non-state actors accountable for their crimes and using every tool at our disposal to end the violence and bring about peace,” Omar said. "We should be affirming the right of all people, regardless of their faith, to have self-determination and equal rights. That includes both Israelis and Palestinians because, yes, Palestinian lives matter.”


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