AGM-114 Hellfire missile. A highly sophisticated guided weapon capable of surgical strikes.
I have been saying for a long time that the present US administration is the most unfriendly to Israel ever. Now it is becoming even more clear.
Israel has been ordering (and getting) weapons and ammunition directly from the Pentagon, in accordance with long-standing protocols. But yesterday unnamed US officials let it be known that a shipment of Hellfire missiles (air-to-ground missiles fired from Cobra gunships) was held up on direct orders from the White House. White house officials went so far as to suggest that Israel went behind their backs to the Pentagon:
JERUSALEM—White House and State Department officials who were leading U.S. efforts to rein in Israel’s military campaign in the Gaza Strip were caught off guard last month when they learned that the Israeli military had been quietly securing supplies of ammunition from the Pentagon without their approval.
Since then the Obama administration has tightened its control on arms transfers to Israel. But Israeli and U.S. officials say that the adroit bureaucratic maneuvering made it plain how little influence the White House and State Department have with the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu —and that both sides know it. …
White House and State Department officials had already become increasingly disturbed by what they saw as heavy-handed battlefield tactics that they believed risked a humanitarian catastrophe capable of harming regional stability and Israel’s interests.
They were especially concerned that Israel was using artillery, instead of more precision-guided munitions, in densely populated areas. The realization that munitions transfers had been made without their knowledge came as a shock. …
The White House and State Department have sought to regain greater control over U.S.-Israeli policy. They decided to require White House and State Department approval for even routine munitions requests by Israel, officials say.
Instead of being handled as a military-to-military matter, each case is now subject to review—slowing the approval process and signaling to Israel that military assistance once taken for granted is now under closer scrutiny.
So in other words, the White House is sabotaging Israel’s war effort while at the same time validating Hamas’ line that Israel is brutally unconcerned with civilian casualties in Gaza. As a matter of fact, the actual number of noncombatants killed or wounded is not high at all, given the conditions under which this war — and we need to emphasize that it is a defensive war — is being fought.
Hamas deliberately tries to actually increase noncombatant casualties on its own side, as well as exaggerating the numbers as part of its political strategy whose intent is to encourage the ‘international community’ to tie Israel’s hands so that it is unable to defend itself. Thus the US is in effect helping Hamas carry out this strategy.
The cutoff of Hellfire missiles is especially silly if the US is upset about casualties from artillery or other non-precision weapons. The Hellfire is about as surgical a weapon as you can get, preferred for taking out a target as small as a car or motorcycle without collateral damage.
There is also a degree of hypocrisy involved, since the US has a far worse record than Israel of safeguarding civilians in its recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
But who cares, when the point is to send a message? This is just the latest in a long series of punishments delivered by the administration, including John Kerry’s turning to Hamas supporters Qatar and Turkey for his ceasefire proposal while snubbing Egypt and Israel, and the shutdown of Israel’s international airport.
While it would probably be going too far to say that the administration prefers Hamas to the Netanyahu government, it is obvious that it does not want to see Hamas defeated, or even disarmed.