The request would remove most conditions on Israel’s use of a U.S. weapons stash, including a requirement that it only use surplus or obsolete weapons and a cap on how much the U.S. can spend resupplying the stash.
President Joe Biden has requested that Congress to lift most of the restrictions on Israel’s access to a U.S. stockpile of weapons in the country, The Intercept reported Saturday.
The request came in the administration’s supplemental budget request to the U.S. Senate, sent October 20. It concerns the War Reserve Stockpile Allies-Israel (WRSA-I) that the U.S. has stored in Israel since the 1980s for its own use in a potential conflict in the region. The U.S. allows Israel to access the stockpile under certain conditions, but Biden’s request would remove most of these conditions, including a requirement that Israel only use surplus or obsolete weapons and a cap on how much the U.S. can spend resupplying the stash.
“The President’s emergency supplemental funding request would essentially create a free-flowing pipeline to provide any defense articles to Israel by the simple act of placing them in the WRSA-I stockpile, or other stockpiles intended for Israel,” Josh Paul, a former State Department official who resigned over U.S. arm transfers to Israel in the midst of its bombardment of Gaza, told The Intercept.
“The Biden administration’s supplemental budget request would further undermine oversight and accountability even as U.S. support enables an Israeli campaign that has killed thousands of children.”
The news comes in the midst of a four-day cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, which has given journalists and humanitarian organizations a moment to assess the extent of the death and destruction unleashed by Israel in Gaza since October 7, when Hamas attacked Israel, killing 1,200 and taking around 240 hostages. In retaliation, the Israeli military has killed more than 14,800 people in Gaza, around 10,000 of them women and children. That means the number of women and children killed in Gaza in less than two months is more than double the number confirmed killed in Ukraine in two years of fighting with Russia, The New York Times concluded Saturday. One of the reasons for the high civilian toll, the Times said, is Israel’s use of 2,000-pound, U.S.-made bombs in a densely populated Gaza Strip.
Despite this, Biden’s request would allow Israel to access all weapons from the WRSA-I, not just excess or obsolete ones, something that could hurt U.S. preparedness, Paul told The Intercept. The request would also remove a requirement that Israel provide concessions to the U.S. in exchange for accessing the weapons, lift the $200 million per year restocking cap, and shorten a requirement that the government inform Congress 30 days ahead of a weapons transfer under “extraordinary” circumstances.
“The Biden administration’s supplemental budget request would further undermine oversight and accountability even as U.S. support enables an Israeli campaign that has killed thousands of children,” John Ramming Chappell, a legal fellow with the Center for Civilians in Conflict, told The Intercept.
The U.S. typically provides Israel with $3.8 billion in military aid every year, more than it sends to any other nation, according to Al Jazeera. The House has already approved additional aid this year to the tune of $14.3 billion.
The Intercept story came the day after Biden seemed open to the idea of putting conditions on military aid to Israel while answering questions from reporters in Nantucket.
“I think that’s a worthwhile thought, but I don’t think if I started off with that we would have gotten where we are today,” Biden said, as HuffPost reported. “We have to take this a piece at a time.”
On the campaign trail in 2020, Biden said the idea of putting conditions on aid to Israel was “absolutely outrageous.” But the administration’s seemingly unconditional support for Israel as it carried out its siege, bombardment, and invasion of Gaza has led to backlash among progressives, who have marched for a cease-fire and carried out direct actions in several major cities. A Reuters/Ipsos poll released on November 15 found that 68% of the U.S. public backed a cease-fire.
In an appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan did not rule out the idea that Biden would sign legislation putting conditions on military aid to Israel, though he said currently what was proving effective was behind-doors diplomacy with Israel and Arab nations.
“He is going to continue to focus on what is going to generate results,” Sullivan said.
“Oxfam is urgently calling for a full cease-fire and unimpeded humanitarian access,” said the group, explaining that a four-day pause in fighting is not sufficient.
Humanitarian workers in Gaza on Thursday said their daily experiences struggling to take care of pregnant people and babies demonstrate why a four-day pause in fighting is far from sufficient to save the lives of the blockaded enclave’s most vulnerable residents, including newborns who have begun to die from preventable causes.
As Israel’s blockade continues to keep Gaza authorities from providing clean water, food, sanitation, and heat to homes and hospitals, babies aged three months and younger “are dying of diarrhea, hypothermia, dehydration, and infection,” said Oxfam International.
Juzoor, an organization partnering with Oxfam in northern Gaza, said premature births have increased by 25-30% since October 7 when Israel began its bombardment of Gaza in retaliation for an attack by Hamas.
The group has been supporting about 500 pregnant women in 13 shelters—where a total of 35,000 people are living—and many have gone into labor prematurely as they have the ongoing trauma of “walking long distances in search of safety, running away from bombs, and being crowded into shelters with squalid conditions.”
Humanitarian workers are struggling to adequately care for thousands of people who have taken refuge in shelters, with waste piling up due to a lack of sanitation services and up to 600 people sharing one toilet.
Sally Abi Khalil, Middle East regional director for Oxfam, said the fact that the crisis has reached a stage where babies are dying of preventable illnesses is “abhorrent.”
“Last month we lost at least one baby in every shelter, it’s heartbreaking,” said Umaiyeh Khammash, director of Juzoor. “Access to hospitals is extremely dangerous and virtually impossible, so many women are having to give birth with little or no maternity support in shelters.”
As Common Dreams has reported, more than 50,000 Gaza residents are facing Israel’s onslaught while pregnant, and more than 5,500 are expected to give birth within a month. Juzoor estimates that 30% of women will face pregnancy complications that require extra medical attention, putting their babies at greater risk—particularly in the first 28 days of life, when newborns are most vulnerable.
Khammash expressed fear that the group will soon be entirely out of food for residents.
“The absence of fuel has affected hospitals in the north and the shelters where we operate,” he said. “There is no light, there is no heat. Now winter is coming and it’s cold. It is really a disaster for everyone, but especially for expectant mothers.”
Some women have given birth in recent weeks in repurposed classrooms surrounded by dozens of refugees, without qualified medical personnel present or any capacity for providing “basic hygiene,” Khalil said.
“I don’t think there is anyone anywhere in the world that would disagree that is simply inhumane,” she added.
Oxfam is working to provide the Juzoor shelters with hygiene kits and food, while 60 health professionals have been mobilized to work with thousands of displaced people.
“But the ongoing violence, siege, and acute shortages of fuel and clean water severely hinder these efforts,” said Oxfam as it called on officials to go further than negotiating only a four-day “humanitarian pause.”
“Oxfam is urgently calling for a full cease-fire and unimpeded humanitarian access in order to restore vital services and provide desperately needed medical support particularly to pregnant women and newborn babies,” said the group.
Palestine solidarity and anti-imperialist organizations raise demands following the announcement of a 4-day pause in aggression in Gaza
In the early hours of November 22, Israeli and Hamas officials announced that they accepted the agreement brokered by Qatar, Egypt, and the United States for a 4-day pause in aggression in the Gaza Strip, which includes the exchange of 150 Palestinian political prisoners for 50 non-military Israeli hostages, as well as the entry of 300 trucks of humanitarian aid into the besieged Gaza Strip.
This temporary pause comes after Israel has slaughtered over 14,500 Palestinians in Gaza, with 7,000 still trapped under the rubble and over 35,000 wounded. Israel’s airstrikes on hospitals and civilian infrastructure as well as the complete blockade on the enclave means that the thousands of injured have limited access to care and the population overall has restricted access to medicine, water, food, fuel, and electricity. The Government Media Office in Gaza reports that 1.5 million Palestinians have been displaced, with 233,000 homes partially damaged and 45,000 completely damaged. 266 schools have been damaged, and 67 are now out of service. Israel has completely destroyed 85 mosques, and significantly damaged three churches.
“The steadfast resilience and resistance of the Palestinian people has delivered a 4-day pause in the ongoing genocide while securing the imminent release of 150 Palestinian political prisoners,” read a statement signed by the Palestinian Youth Movement, National Students for Justice in Palestine, The People’s Forum, ANSWER Coalition, and the International Peoples’ Assembly.
The groups have called on people to remain in the streets around the world, to ensure that a permanent ceasefire is reached: “We must intensify our commitment and efforts until every single one of our demands is fulfilled: a permanent ceasefire, an end to the siege on Gaza, and an end to all US, Canadian, and European aid to Israel.”
“We call on people of conscience everywhere to Shut it Down on November 24th and to continue protesting, planning and implementing direct actions, and drive campaigns focused on our primary demands,” the statement read, referring to the 3rd announced day of “shut downs” for strategic actions for Palestine.
International NGOs are also pushing for a more permanent ceasefire. In a press briefing on “Ceasefire, Pauses and Safe Corridors” held on November 22, hours after the deal was reached, Joel Weiler, executive director of Médecins du Monde, said “for a medical organization, four days of pause is….band aid, not health care,” arguing it would be insufficient time for treatment of serious injuries. Danila Zizi, Handicap International director for Palestine, said “it’s a kind of drop in the ocean if we don’t have fuel and we don’t have access,” complaining about the lack of clarity around the agreement.
“The only way to meet all these needs,” or respect for human rights and access to healthcare, “is a permanent, sustained cessation of humanitarian law violations and a cease fire long enough to restore human rights to millions of people,” said Paul O’Brien, Executive Director of Amnesty International USA. “That’s why we’re joining this call for an immediate and sustained ceasefire.”
Regarding the announcement of the agreement, Hamas stated, “The terms of this agreement were formulated according to the vision of the resistance and its determinants, which aim to serve our people and enhance their steadfastness in the face of aggression, constantly mindful of their sacrifices, suffering, concerns, and managing these negotiations from a position of steadfastness and strength in the field, despite the occupation’s attempts to prolong and procrastinate the negotiations.”
Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that this exact same deal was put forward to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu previously, but was rejected. According to an analysis piece in the Israeli paper of record, Netanyahu caved under pressure from the families of Israelis held hostage in Gaza as well as the IDF, Shin Bet, and the Mossad. Multiplereports indicate that Israeli airstrikes in Gaza have killed many of their own hostages.
On Wednesday, Lieutenant Colonel Richard Hecht, the IDF’s international spokesperson, said in a press briefing that, “our terminology is not ceasefire, our terminology is an operational pause,” implying that Israel could resume violence once the hostage exchange is complete. Hecht also suggests that the pause might not begin in over 24 hours.
Wounded and hospitalized Gazans continue to be targeted by the IOF, with convoys evacuating the wounded obstructed by Israeli forces at checkpoints or Israelis launching further airstrikes near hospitals, such as the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital and the Al-Yemen Al-Saeed Hospital.
“As medical humanitarians, we reassert that hospitals should never, under any circumstances be a target,” asserted Avril Benoît, Executive Director of Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières in the United States, in Wednesday’s press briefing. She added, “It’s dangerous and terrifying to think what is happening to the norms, to the laws of war. It’s like this dystopian reality now where all the normal scaffolding of what is the conduct of responsible parties in a conflict are being completely perverted.”
As part of its genocidal onslaught on Gaza, Israel is killing media workers at an unprecedented rate, seemingly to prevent the world from seeing the unspeakable atrocities it carries out.
Israel is intentionally assassinating journalists in Gaza. As it wages its genocidal onslaught on the enclave, having murdered at least 13,000 Palestinians so far, Israel is simultaneously killing media workers in order to prevent the world from seeing the unspeakable atrocities it carries out.
“We have never experienced anything like this and we are overwhelmed,” admitted Nasser Abu Bakr, head of the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate, a Ramallah-based trade union representing Palestinian media workers. “We are losing colleagues and friends every day as a result of the ongoing Israeli genocide against the Palestinian people and the policy of targeted killing against journalists.”
“We can’t keep up with the number of attacks against our journalists,” Abu Bakr continued. “We are receiving more calls and information about … incidents than we can process. Our journalists have always been a target for the Israeli military, but Israel moved from killing [an average of] one Palestinian journalist a year before October 7 to killing [over] one a day.”
And it’s not just Palestinian reporters the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) is attacking—any journalist who may potentially disseminate information critical of Israel is a potential target.
Among the long list of reporter casualties is Reuters photojournalist Issam Abdallah, who was killed by an October 13 Israeli strike on the Lebanese border while covering clashes between Hezbollah and the IDF. According to an independent investigation by Reporters Without Borders (RWB), Abdallah was explicitly targeted by Israeli forces—he was clearly identified as a journalist through his press helmet and vest, and he was standing next to a vehicle marked “press” on its roof. Immediately before the attack, other journalists in the area had witnessed an Israeli helicopter flying overhead, so the military was able to clearly see that Abdallah was a non-combatant. According to ballistic analysis done by RWB, the missiles were launched from the side of the Israeli border and “two strikes in the same place in such a short space of time (just over 30 seconds), from the same direction, clearly indicate precise targeting.”
Not even the families of journalists are safe from Israeli retaliation. After learning on air that an Israeli air raid had killed his wife, son, daughter, and grandson, Gaza Al Jazeera bureau chief Wael Al-Dahdouh rushed to the hospital, followed by press cameras. Upon finding his son there, he knelt over his lifeless body and lamented, “They take revenge on us with our children.”
Just as it has claimed that Hamas was hiding in Gaza hospitals, near schools, and in ambulance convoys in order to justify its bombing and killing of civilians, Israel has peddled the same predictable excuses for these targeted assassinations of journalists. In a chilling November 2 article that effectively doubles as a hit list, the Jerusalem Post spotlighted several independent Palestinian journalists who had been reporting from Gaza and smeared them as part of “Hamas’s propaganda team.”
Then, pro-Israel media watchdog group HonestReporting released a report on November 8 claiming—with little evidence—that the Associated Press, CNN, The New York Times, and Reuters freelance photographers in Gaza knew in advance of the October 7 Palestinian Resistance counter-offensive and even collaborated with Hamas in order be on location to get their shots during the operation.
Israeli officials quickly jumped on the story to vindicate their assassination campaign against Palestinian reporters.
In response to the report, former Minister of Defense and current member of Israel’s war cabinet Benny Gantz said, “Journalists found to have known about the massacre, and [who] still chose to stand as idle bystanders while children were slaughtered, are no different than terrorists and should be treated as such.”
Danny Danon, Israel’s representative to the United Nations, went so far as to declare that these reporters would be put on a hit list, stating on X, “Israel’s internal security agency announced that they will eliminate all participants of the October 7 massacre. The ‘photojournalists’ who took part in recording the assault will be added to that list.”
Gil Hoffman, executive director of HonestReporting, later admitted that he had no evidence to substantiate the claims made, but was just “raising questions.” According to Hoffman, he and HonestReporting “don’t claim to be a news organization.”
Not only is the IDF killing Palestinian journalists on the ground, but the Israeli government is actively denying access to foreign press into Gaza. The only reporters allowed into the strip are those embedded within the IDF, and media outlets such as NBC and CNN have confirmed that in exchange for access, they must submit all materials to the Israeli military prior to broadcast for review and approval.
Additionally, the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate reported that as many as 50 media outlets in Gaza have been partially or entirely destroyed by Israeli air strikes since October 7. If Israel is not outright bombing news outlets, then they are actively trying to repress the flow of information coming out. In late October, the Israeli government approved regulations that would allow it to shut down any foreign news channel if it believed the outlet posed a threat to national security. This regulation was then used to block the programming and website of Lebanese outlet Al Mayadeen, because of its “wartime efforts to harm [Israel’s] security interests and to serve the enemy’s goals,” according to a statement released by the Israeli security cabinet.
In the absence of foreign press bearing witness to Israel’s atrocities in Gaza, Palestinian civilians have taken to documenting the horrors themselves and sharing them on social media sites such as X and TikTok for the outside world to see.
Even before its current war on Gaza began on October 7, Israel had a long history of targeting reporters and news networks. During its 2021 military incursion on Gaza, Israel was accused of “silencing” journalists by press freedom advocates after it bombed the offices of Al Jazeera and the Associated Press. This occurred just days after it had bombed another building that housed a number of other news outlets, including Al Araby TV, Al Kofiya TV, and Watania News Agency, among others.
According to the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate, Israel killed 55 journalists from 2000 to 2022, either by live fire or bombardment. This figure includes Shireen Abu Akleh, the beloved Palestinian-American journalist and longtime Al Jazeera correspondent who was shot by Israeli forces while reporting on IDF raids in Jenin, as well as Yaser Murtaja, a cameraman for Palestinian network Ain Media, who was shot and killed by the IDF while covering the 2018 Great March of Return.
Like so many other Palestinian journalists Israel murdered on the job, Abu Akleh and Murtaja were both wearing their press vests at the time of their killings. Immediately after his death, Israel predictably—with no evidence—rushed to accuse Murtaja of being a Hamas fighter in order to cover its tracks.
The day after Murtaja’s killing, Israel’s then-Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman bluntly stated, “In the march of terror, there were no innocent civilians. They were all Hamas.”
Israel is losing the information war
Israel relies on its advanced military weaponry and billions of dollars in funding from the US to carry out its genocidal violence against the Palestinian people across Gaza, Jerusalem, and the West Bank. Its Hasbara and “Brand Israel” campaigns work around the clock to justify its war crimes through outright lies and disinformation.
However, Israel has suffered significant losses in the information war as reports and images of the atrocities have reached millions across the world, many of whom have joined the mass mobilizations in support of the Palestinian cause. On the international stage, Israel is further politically isolated, with more and more countries cutting ties or recalling their diplomatic staff.
This battle of ideas cannot be won through sheer force and US-backed military superiority. Israel cannot prevent information about its atrocities from leaking out, especially in an age of social media in which ordinary Palestinians are emboldened to act as citizen journalists, documenting what they are living through in Gaza for the world to see. As Israel escalates its assassination campaign against media workers, support for the Palestinian Resistance continues to grow.
Grim as the current situation may seem, it speaks to the reality at hand: The people of the world are waking up to the atrocities carried out by the Zionist state and refusing to allow it to continue.
And that speaks to another reality: Israel is living on borrowed time, and that time is running out.
Amanda Yee is a journalist and organizer based out of Brooklyn. She is the managing editor of Liberation News, and her writing has appeared in Monthly Review Online, The Real News Network, CounterPunch, and Peoples Dispatch. Follow her on X @catcontentonly.
“While the IRA was touted as the ‘largest investment in climate and energy in American history,’ it could turn out to be a failure if Biden doesn’t also take bold action on fossil fuels,” said Oil Change International.
The 2022 law heralded as U.S. President Biden’s key climate achievement may support an expansion of clean energy, but a new analysis out Monday demonstrates how the Inflation Reduction Act leaves the fossil fuel industry with vast opportunities to extract more oil and gas and continue boosting its record-breaking profits at the expense of frontline communities.
The report, said Oil Change International (OCI) as it released the new findings, proves that the Biden administration can’t rely on the IRA to demonstrate its commitment to the emissions reduction that scientists agree is needed to mitigate the climate crisis.
“The model projects that despite the IRA’s investment in renewable energy, electric vehicles, and batteries, the United States could still miss its Paris Agreement goal of reducing U.S. emissions by 50 to 52% below 2005 levels by 2030,” reads the report, noting that as the world’s largest historical emitter of fossil fuel emissions, the U.S. has a responsibility to “cut its emissions faster than the global average.”
The group’s model projects that domestic fossil gas demand in the U.S. will decline by 16% by 2035, yet production is expected to rise by 7%. Petroleum demand is expected to decline by 20%, yet production will rise by 13%.
“The gap between production and demand is filled by surging exports,” explained OCI. “Gas exports are projected to double by 2035, while oil and petroleum product exports rise 23%.”
Wind and solar power are expected to replace gas domestically, added the organization, but the positive effects of the decline in gas demand in the U.S. are “tempered by an increase in gas consumption within the oil and gas industry itself.”
The “energy-hungry” liquefied natural gas (LNG) export sector will essentially cancel out progress made by surging wind and solar power in the U.S., said OCI, with gas consumption by LNG export plants growing 140% by 2035.
“The Biden administration touts the Inflation Reduction Act as a centerpiece of its achievements on climate,” said Collin Rees, U.S. campaign manager for OCI. “In reality, the bill leaves a massive escape hatch for the fossil fuel industry to continue business as usual.”
Rhodium’s modeling projects that the U.S. will miss its targeted emissions reduction for 2030 by 16-18 percentage points if the Biden administration relies on the IRA and its investments in technological fixes like carbon capture and storage and fossil hydrogen production while allowing continued investments in oil and gas exports.
“While the IRA was touted as the ‘largest investment in climate and energy in American history,’ it could turn out to be a failure if Biden doesn’t also take bold action on fossil fuels,” said OCI in a statement. “As the world gathers for COP28, Biden still has a chance to be the climate leader he claims he is by making a commitment to phasing out fossil fuels.”
The phase-out of all oil and gas production in the U.S. is widely recognized as necessary by energy and climate experts, and has long been demanded by advocates for frontline communities, which bear a disproportionate public health burden due to the strong links between fossil fuel extraction, storage, and transport and harms including respiratory illnesses, cardiovascular disease, and poor outcomes for pregnant people and infants.
Boosting fossil fuel production and exports “while exacerbating pollution in environmental justice communities,” said OCI, is a “deadly combination.”
Roishetta Sibley Ozane, founder of the Vessel Project of Louisiana, said Biden’s approval of projects like the Willow oil drilling initiative in Alaska, nearly $2 billion for publicly financed fossil fuel projects abroad, and his support for the Mountain Valley Pipeline, among other pollution-causing infrastructure, has shown frontline communities that the president’s campaign promises regarding environmental justice were “nothing but a smokescreen.”
“We supported [President Joe] Biden for change, not to deal with deadly decisions made without us at the table,” said Ozane. “The fight against climate disaster is collective, and the United States cannot preach about caring for communities while exporting pollution globally.”
The pollution impacts of continued fossil fuel production and exports will be “disproportionately borne by Black, Brown, Indigenous, and poor communities—specifically in Appalachia, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Permian Basin of Texas and New Mexico,” said OCI.
To align with Biden’s stated climate goals, the group said, the president’s efforts must go far beyond the IRA and include a phase-out of oil and gas exports, an end to fossil fuel leasing on federal lands, and a halt to all approvals for new fossil fuel infrastructure.
“At COP28 the spotlight will be on our collective effort to end the fossil fuel era,” said Rees. “Will the United States deliver, or will Biden’s climate legacy be one of disastrous oil and gas expansion and failure to adequately tackle the climate crisis?”