Surprise!: After his Brutal Assault on Gaza, Netanyahu Tries to Stick Americans with the Bill

Yes, it’s true. On his way out the door, Israel’s PM is asking American taxpayers to shell out a billion dollars to “replenish” the vaunted “Iron-Dome” missile defense system. In addition to some $4 billion of annual US aid (mostly military) he now wants another billion for more ammunition.

Palestine… Still Waiting for Justice

When one looks at pictures of the recent destruction in Gaza, it is easy to see that a billion dollars wouldn’t be enough to fix it all—but it could go a long way. Instead of that, Americans are essentially being asked to sanction the violence by paying for it. It truly boggles the mind.

It is not surprising that Senator Lindsey Graham is a key spokesman for this travesty. Graham is a prime supporter of Trump and Netanyahu (he just seems to love bigots!). A trusted figure as well in some quarters…(didn’t he describe Trump, also a big fan of Netanyahu, as “bat-shit crazy” not that long before saying “I love the guy!?”)

Two main things make the recent Israeli actions in Gaza an almost certain violation of international law: First, by any standard, it was disproportionate. Second, it was certainly a form of collective punishment. In Israel, some homes and buildings suffered fairly superficial damage. In Gaza, by stark contrast, entire apartment blocks, and critical civilian infrastructure, were completely demolished. In Israel, some 13 people died. In Gaza over 250 were killed.

As to rockets, I can only quote Wikipedia:

“Around 4,360 rockets were fired towards Israel from Gaza, of which 680 landed within the strip, and over 90 percent of rockets bound towards populated areas were intercepted by the Iron Dome. Israel conducted 1,500 air, land and sea strikes on the Strip.”

So, 15% of the Gaza rockets never even got to Israel—they stayed in the tiny area of Gaza itself. Of those that crossed the border, it is probably safe to assume that a large percentage of them had already gone badly astray or failed and fell harmlessly in the wide stretches of the sparsely populated desert. Since these homemade rockets really can’t be aimed, they tend to fall at random. As the casualty and damage figures indicate, they rarely hit anything. But this low rate of effectiveness is not really because “Iron-Dome” is terribly efficient. In fact, Israeli casualties were even lower in previous episodes of this kind before the Iron-Dome even came into service.

Even when Iron-Dome hits a rocket, it rarely scores a direct hit on the warhead. In other words, the rockets fired at random still come down randomly- it is just a different version of random. Israelis aren’t really “safe” during an attack, they still need to hide in bomb shelters and even after a rocket barrage stops. Then they need to wait until demolition experts make sure there are no live munitions in a given area.

Anyone who wants further data on Iron-Dome’s track record can click on this link to an article I wrote in about 2014. It is “Black Humor”- snarky, bitter, sarcastic, and satirical. That said, it is factual, and the numbers and analysis are pretty reliable. It is also rather long and detailed, so let me finish up quickly here.

The extreme damage caused by Israel’s 1,500 airstrikes are quite a contrast with damage from Palestinian rockets. One can watch video of a single Israeli strikes demolishing entire high-rise buildings. 

A typical homemade rocket probably costs between $50 and $100 to make. That would place the total cost of rockets fired by “iron-Dome” at Gaza rockets at about $220,000 to $440,000 dollars per rocket. Israel is asking for one billion dollars to pay for the ammunition used in shooting them down. That would mean that Israel paid about $230,000 for every rocket fired from Gaza. The cost per rocket actually targeted and knocked down must be more than double that.  Even the best-case estimate would arrive at the fact that Israel spends $2300 dollars for every dollar spent by Palestinians.

Obviously, this is a phenomenal waste of money. The real problem though is much deeper: 1. Every time America picks up the tab for Israel by paying for this reckless violence, it creates enormous hostility in the Arab/Muslim world. 2. It also creates tremendous disdain in much of the rest of the world. 3. Perhaps most importantly, it creates a total lack of accountability in Israel which almost guarantees that their politicians, when they need to shore up their standing in their increasingly racist, Trump-like, right-wing base, will simply repeat the exercise. Why not? American taxpayers will foot the bill—not them!

Finally, and perhaps the saddest fact, is that none of this was really necessary or fruitful. The problem began because Israelis were evicting legitimate Palestinian residents from their homes. After protests began, Israelis used extreme measures to quell them. At that point, Hamas warned Israel of serious consequences if they persisted in the evictions and suppression. Israel ignored these warnings, and the die was cast.

Eleven days and lot of carnage later, there was a ceasefire. Just like before… As Wikipedia notes: “Calls for a ceasefire were first proposed on 13 May by Hamas, but rejected by Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.”

Don’t assume that just because Netanyahu appears to be on his way out, things are getting any better. His successor will likely be his old protégé Benjamin Naftali, who is violently opposed to giving the Palestinians their long-promised state and who reportedly once said, “I’ve killed lots of Arabs in my life, and there’s no problem with that.”  Wow. I guess every Israeli life is a precious jewel, but Palestinian lives don’t really matter at all… Isn’t that attitude the very definition of racism?

Personally, I can’t think of a worse way to compromise one’s personal moral ideals, squander US prestige, and waste taxpayer money than in financing further Israeli aggression. So please, call your representatives and friends and urge them to demand that the Biden administration NOT PAY for the next round of “Iron-Dome” ammunition. American aid really isn’t helping. It is just making things worse.

Remember, the billion dollars Netanyahu is asking for is over and above the 4 billion a year in aid the US already gives Israel. Think of that every time you give a dollar to a homeless person, your pet shelter, a refugee relief fund, or put a couple of bucks in the church collection plate—over the years you have already given quite a few dollars to displacing Palestinians from homes that they and their ancestors have lived in for centuries.

If you really take the time to see the full picture, it’s not a pretty picture at all.

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