More Military Aid to Israel Will Mean More Deaths

Oct. 20, 2023

Today the White House released details of its request for additional military aid to Israel.

Meanwhile, Palestinians in Gaza are living in a nightmare. After nearly two weeks of constant bombing, the death toll has topped 4,000 Palestinians, many of them children.

Promises from the U.S. and Israeli governments that Israeli military attacks on Gaza would take meaningful steps to safeguard civilian life have fallen flat. 

In the face of massive suffering in Gaza and disregard for international law by the Israeli government, the U.S. must not provide additional military aid or weapons that would cause more deaths. Instead, the U.S. should use its considerable diplomatic strength to call for an immediate ceasefire. 

The Israeli military’s onslaught on Gaza has not protected civilians. It has instead targeted them:

  • Early on, the Israeli government cut off food, water, and fuel supplies to Gaza, where half of the population are children, and the population has already been living under siege for 16 years. Every hour that passes without full restoration of basic necessities of life into Gaza creates more risk for civilians and children. 

  • The Israeli military’s bombing of Gaza has been relentless and indiscriminate, leveling apartment buildings and schools, medical facilities, refugee camps and churches. Thousands have died and many thousands more have been injured. The blockade of supplies has included water, energy and medical supplies needed to treat civilian survivors.

  • The Israeli government has instructed Palestinian civilians to evacuate Northern Gaza, with no safe refuge. Even as hundreds of thousands of civilians have fled to Southern Gaza, Israeli bombs have repeatedly struck locations on the few routes out of Northern Gaza and in the supposedly safe zone. Border crossings remain closed, keeping civilians from fleeing, including critically ill patients, as well as foreign nationals and U.S. citizens. 

  • Israeli officials have not indicated whether evacuated Gazans, the majority of whom are refugees and descendants of refugees expelled from what is now Israel back in 1947-1948, will be able to return safely to their homes in Gaza.  

  • After nearly two weeks of bombing and restriction of basic necessities for life, the Israeli government has not made necessary allowances for humanitarian aid to Gazans, preventing the flow of food, water, fuel, and medical aid into the Gaza Strip.

For many years, the U.S. has subsidized the Israeli military, providing $3.8 billion in FY 2023. The U.S. can and should use its considerable influence to call for an immediate ceasefire to prevent further civilian casualties instead of promising further unconditional aid. 

The billions of dollars that have been proposed for Israeli military aid are needed elsewhere. Whether for international humanitarian aid or underfunded programs for U.S. residents, our resources should be supporting life, peace, and justice, not war and vengeance.

This is far from the first time that the Israeli military’s or government’s actions have violated international law with respect to Palestinians in the occupied territories, but the scale of these violations is more severe, and Israeli officials have indicated that the violations will continue and even escalate. 

Israeli officials in the current government have indicated a lack of concern for human rights or international law in Gaza, with many statements indicating intent to target civilians. Israeli government and military officials have referred to their war against “human animals,” and called for another “a second nakba,” or “catastrophe,” in reference to the 1948 forced displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestians.

The suffering of Israeli civilians in the attacks of October 7 does not justify collective punishment of Palestinian civilians. The U.S. must not support these violations of international law or of U.S. law, which prohibits funding foreign military forces engaged in human rights abuses. Instead, the U.S. should use diplomatic channels to work for an immediate ceasefire to protect civilians. It should not provide more weapons and military aid that would further inflame an unjust and illegal response. 

Read our earlier statement calling for an immediate ceasefire.