Now into its second month, Israel’s war on Gaza has left the strip’s northern section in shambles and killed over 14,000 Palestinians, with the majority being women and children. While Israel is launching the attacks on Gaza, several Western powers are also involved in the assault behind the scenes. MintPress News takes a deep dive into the countries sustaining Israel’s war.
Who is sending Israel weapons?
Since Israel’s war on Gaza began in October, several rights groups have initiated legal proceedings regarding arms exports to Israel.
On Nov. 6, Palestinian human rights organizations, Al-Haq, Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, and the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights launched legal action in the Federal Court of Australia to access all arms export permits that have been granted to Israel since Oct.7.
We know that hundreds of permits have been issued in recent years, but the Australian government keeps the basic details secret: what items are being exported, who is making them, what are they used for?,” Rawan Arraf, executive director of the Australian Centre for International Justice, whose organization is supporting the Palestinian groups’ application, said in a press release.
Australia’s arms exports are shrouded in secrecy and have come under additional scrutiny after a Senate hearing in October found that 52 defense permits were granted to the Israeli government in 2023, with more than 350 being granted since 2017.
On Nov. 13, Palestinians sued United States President Joe Biden for failing to prevent genocide in Gaza and to stop the administration’s military and diplomatic support. Three days later the plaintiffs filed an urgent motion to immediately halt U.S. support for Israel.
“Palestinian children in Gaza are undoubtedly targets as repeated Israeli military offensives destroy their homes, schools, and neighborhoods, as Israeli forces use U.S.-made and funded weapons to kill them and their families with impunity,” Khaled Quzmar, general director at Defense for Children International – Palestine, and a plaintiff in the lawsuit, said in a press release.
Bloomberg revealed a U.S. Defense Department document entitled “Israel Senior Leader” requests, dating to late October, listing the weapons Israel is seeking for its ongoing war on Gaza. According to Bloomberg, the weapons arsenal is already being shipped. The arms are listed below:
- 2,000 Hellfire missiles for Apache attack helicopters manufactured by U.S. weapons firm Lockheed Martin
- 30mm chain gun ammunition for Apache attack helicopters manufactured by U.S. arms corporation General Dynamics
- 57,000 155mm shells for artillery guns
- 400 120mm mortars
- PVS-14 night vision monoculars from U.S. manufacturer Night Vision Devices
- M141 shoulder-fired bunker-busters
- 75 Joint Light Tactical Vehicles, manufactured by U.S. firm Oshkosh Defense
- More than 300 Tamir interceptors for Israel’s Iron Dome system, and made by U.S. arms manufacturer Raytheon
As previously reported by MintPress News, photos have shown that U.S.-manufactured weapons containing white phosphorus are being used in Israel’s assault on Gaza. These artillery shells were made by Pine Bluff Arsenal, an army facility based in Arkansas known for supplying white phosphorus ammunition. The U.S. army did not respond to requests verifying if Pine Bluff Arsenal artillery is being used in Gaza.
המטוס ה-45 ברכבת האווירית של מערכת הביטחון נחת הבוקר בישראל. כ-1,000 טונות של חימושים ואמצעי לחימה הובאו עד כה לתמיכה בפעילות צה”ל.
— משרד הביטחון (@MoDIsrael) October 20, 2023
On Telegram and LinkedIn, the Defense Ministry mentioned how its Mission to the U.S. based in New York City helped procure the arms and equipment.
Open-source data has also indicated Western military aircraft and warships in the Eastern Mediterranean region over the last month.
— U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet (@USNavyEurope) October 30, 2023
U.S. warships — the Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group and the Gerald R. Ford carrier strike groups — sailed to the Mediterranean in October to support Israel’s military. The Eisenhower carrier is last known to be in the Red Sea while the U.K.’s navy’s Argus ship is docked in Cyprus.
#ICYMI #MightyIKE has passed through the Suez Canal and has entered the Red Sea, November 4th. IKE and @csg_two are deployed to the @US5thFleet / @CENTCOM area of operations to support maritime security and stability in the Middle East region.#GreaterEachDay pic.twitter.com/4pX3vu6Xzd
— USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (IKE) (@TheCVN69) November 5, 2023
At least six German Air Force planes have arrived at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport in the last week along with two planes from the British Air Force and aircraft from the Polish Air Force and U.S. Navy.
In the last month, military aircraft from France and Australia have also all traveled to Tel Aviv. Australia’s Defense Department acknowledged its in deployed aircraft to the region in press releases.
A press release from Oct. 27 stated:
The deployment of Australian aircraft and supporting Defence personnel is a precautionary measure to support whole-of-Australian Government contingency planning and delivery of support to Australian citizens and approved foreign nationals, in the region, if required.
The Czech Air Force landed at the Israeli Hatzerim Air Base on Oct. 22. Military aircraft from the U.S. and Italy landed at Israeli Netavim Air Base in the last month. And a U.S. Air Force plane arrived to the Israeli Tel Nof Air Base on Nov. 16.
Several British Air Force planes have traveled to Tel Aviv from the U.K.’s Akrotiri military base in Cyprus in the last week. A plane belonging to arms manufacturer BAE Systems also arrived to the airbase recently.
The aforementioned militaries did not respond to MintPress News’ requests for comment on why their aircraft landed in the region and what kind of cargo or personnel it was transporting. Only Australia’s Defense Department responded, referring MintPress News to its previous press releases on the matter.
New from @CAATuk: “Israel is using UK arms exports in a genocide against the Palestinian people. The UK government is complicit in these crimes not just by supplying these weapons for decades, but by repeatedly inciting Israel to commit war crimes against Palestinian civilians”. pic.twitter.com/zbO7WE2NVp
— Declassified UK (@declassifiedUK) November 14, 2023
While it remains unclear the exact kind and amount of equipment Western governments are sending to Israel during this time, activist groups have deemed these states complicit in Israel’s ongoing war against Gaza.
“Since 2018, Britain has approved arms exports to Israel worth at least £147 million (or roughly $183 million),” the U.K.-based Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) said in a statement to MintPress News. “Because of the nature of Britain’s arms export licensing, the true value is likely to be substantially higher. This includes exports for military aircrafts, helicopters and drones. It also includes components for armored vehicles and bombs.”
“The British government is therefore providing material support for Israel’s relentless bombardment of the Gaza Strip,” PSC said.
According to U.K.-based Campaign Against Arms Trade, British companies provide 15% of the materials for the F35 stealth combat aircraft, which Israel is currently using to bomb Gaza. Suppliers for the F35 stealth fighter jets also include: U.S., Canada, Norway, Switzerland, Denmark, Australia, Belgium, Germany, Turkey, Italy, Netherlands, and France.
Also sections on Spain, Belgium, and South Africa! Plus a spreadsheet of the international supply chain for the US F-35 stealth fighter, one of the aircraft Israel is using to bomb Gaza. https://t.co/qgPMhSIksT
— CAAT (@CAATuk) November 8, 2023
Lockheed Martin’s MLRS M270 rocket launcher, which was used inside Gaza for the first time since 2006, was built in Europe by an international consortium of companies from France, Germany, Italy, and the U.K.
The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute provided data on arms sales from Europe to Israel between 2013 to 2022 to EuroNews, showing Italy and Germany had supplied Israel’s military with weapons now being used on the ground in Gaza. It also said Germany had sent more than 1,000 tank engines to Israel. As of Nov. 2, Germany’s government has exported $323 million in arms to Israel — nearly 10 times more than it sent to Israel last year.
During a NATO meeting in Brussels in October, German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius confirmed that Israel was also requesting munitions for its navy.
“We will discuss with the Israelis how exactly that will now proceed,” Pistorius said, suggesting the weapons pipeline to Israel may increase.
Who is sending troops?
Media reports have suggested that foreign soldiers are assisting in Israel’s current war operations.
Spanish newspaper, El Mundo, revealed that a Spanish mercenary is assisting Israeli forces in Gaza. Pedro Diaz Flores has been pictured there with the Israeli occupation forces. He previously fought in Ukraine, having become involved in the war through the neo-Nazi Azov Brigade.
Through his involvement with the neo-Nazi Azov Brigade, Pedro was absorbed in to the Charlie One Unit of Ukrainian Military Intelligence. pic.twitter.com/Ah9SwghOoT
— Lowkey (@Lowkey0nline) November 5, 2023
“So I came for economy, for money. They pay very well, they offer good equipment and the work is calm. It is 3,900 euros [$4,187] per week, complementary missions aside,” Flores told El Mundo.
In October, British newspaper Socialist Worker — along with other publications — received an “advisory notice from the Defence and Security Media Advisory Committee to not publish information related to British special forces operating in the Middle East.
“Reports have started to appear in some publications claiming that UK Special Forces have deployed to sensitive areas of the Middle East and then linking that deployment to hostage rescue/evacuation operations,” the D-notice said.
The Socialist Worker noted how the Daily Mail reported that the U.K.’s Special Air Service is on “standby in Cyprus” to rescue British hostages held captive in Gaza.
Additionally, Palestinians in Gaza have disclosed they’ve encountered soldiers with American flags on their uniforms. In the below video clip from Quds News Network, a Palestinian man tells an Al Jazeera reporter that his brother spoke in English to a male soldier donning an American flag on his uniform while trying to flee the strip. These claims remain unsubstantiated and it’s possible that soldiers with dual Israeli-U.S. citizenship are wearing an American flag patch without the Israeli military’s permission.
This is just one of a growing number of accounts and reports that US troops are directly participating in the genocide and ethnic cleansing in Gaza.
Last week, Bloomberg reported discussions of “a multinational force that may involve American troops.” pic.twitter.com/ruAUTYShlY
— Andre Damon (WSWS.org) (@Andre__Damon) November 12, 2023
Forward Observations, a volunteer group founded by former U.S. infantry soldier Derrick Bales, who fought in Afghanistan, has posted footage from Gaza and southern Israel on social media.
In one Instagram post, Forward Observations is seen in Be’eri, a community attacked by Hamas on Oct. 7, being guided by members of the Israeli military’s Lotar unit which responded to the violence.
According to Foreign Policy, Forward Observations began as a lifestyle brand selling tactical gear. Then, the group traveled to Ukraine, where it started sourcing medical supplies, gear, and money for Ukrainian soldiers. Bales has been criticized for associating with Vadim Lapaev, a member of the far-right Azov Battalion. He apologized for his connections to Lapaev but said the brigade isn’t as radical as alleged.
Forward Observations did not respond to MintPress News’ inquiries to verify if its personnel are indeed in Israel and what it’s doing there.
U.S. Department of Defense official (DoD), Christopher P. Maier, told The New York Times this month that U.S. special operations forces are stationed in Israel and “actively helping the Israelis” with various efforts including to “identify hostages, including American hostages.”
While Maier declined to tell the Times how many Special Forces are currently in Israel, former Pentagon adviser, Douglas MacGregor, said in a television news interview that 2,000 Marines and 2,000 Special Forces have been deployed to the region. MacGregor also mentioned how U.S. Special Forces embedded with Israeli Special Forces entered the Gaza Strip in October to carry out reconnaissance but were then ambushed and suffered grave casualties.
On the television program Palestine Declassified, British sociologist David Miller told host Chris Williamson, a former U.K. parliament member, that this operation is “an indication that the American soldiers are directly involved in confronting the resistance.”
And a White House photo shared on Instagram and then subsequently deleted shows President Joe Biden meeting with members of the Delta Force during his Oct. 18 visit to Israel. A senior Arab source familiar with the Palestinian groups in Gaza told Middle East Eye — before Israel’s ground invasion — that Palestinians expected Israel to flood Hamas tunnels with a kind of nerve gas or chemical weapon under the supervision of U.S. Delta Force commandos. Israel has begun its ground campaign into Gaza, but there have been no reports of nerve agents being used as of yet.
Despite these reports, the Pentagon told MintPress News “the U.S. has no boots on the ground in Israel.”
So as Western populations continue to flood the streets for Palestine, their governments appear to be supporting the aggressor.
Feature photo | Palestinians search for survivors of the Israeli bombing in Rafah, Gaza Strip, Nov. 22, 2023. Hatem Ali | AP
Jessica Buxbaum is a Jerusalem-based journalist for MintPress News covering Palestine, Israel, and Syria. Her work has been featured in Middle East Eye, The New Arab and Gulf News.