Israel rapidly using up bombs killing Palestinians, so Biden sends more
Last week, President Biden quietly gave the thumbs-up for a fresh shipment of thousands of deadly bombs for Israel, including the lethal MK84 bomb seen here. The 2,000 pound munition is an unguided weapon designed for destruction. It has the capability of killing everyone within a 400-yard radius and has been extensively used by Israel in Gaza, where over 33,000 people have already been killed. | Photos: AP / Illustration: PW

Just in time for Israel to make headlines around the world with its razing of Al-Shifa Hospital and targeted murders of international aid workers this weekend, the Biden administration approved fresh shipments of some of the deadliest bombs and warplanes in the U.S. arsenal to the Israeli military.

Though some countries have announced bans on arms shipments to Tel Aviv recently, the U.S. appears determined to make sure Netanyahu and his extreme right government have all the tools needed to carry on with their genocidal destruction of the Palestinian people.

It’s a reality that defenders of the administration are having a harder and harder time denying these days. White House and State Department spokespeople continue telling the media and voters that the president is “frustrated” with the Israeli prime minister and that he opposes Israel’s stated intention to attack the estimated 1.2 million Gazans barely clinging to life in Rafah.

But those supposed frustrations don’t yet translate to any tangible action to stop the war; toothless U.N. resolution abstentions and calls for a six-week ceasefire have resulted in nothing. On the contrary, the U.S. government remains Israel’s chief enabler and accomplice.

Palestinians walk through the ruins of the Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City. | AP

That’s because no matter how reckless or regrettable the administration may find the actions of Israel’s current leader to be, U.S. imperial strategy does not allow for a crippling of the IDF’s war capability. And with new provocative attacks on Lebanon and Syria—adversaries of U.S. imperialism—Israel is taking steps to tie Biden’s hands when it comes to slowing the flow of weapons.


In October, the world media debated for days whether Israel had bombed the Al-Ahli Hospital and killed hundreds or a stray Hamas rocket had fallen on it. In the months since, the IDF has bombed, raided, and decimated every single hospital in Gaza, rendering the earlier dispute irrelevant.

The latest hospital atrocities committed by the IDF took place at Al-Shifa in Gaza City. During a two-week “raid” that wrapped up this weekend, Israeli troops killed 400 people and left the medical complex, one of the last in Gaza, in ruins. Among the dead, according to the U.N., are dozens of patients, including several children.

Raed al-Nims, an official with the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (local branch of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent), described what amounted to a slow-motion massacre over several days.

“According to eyewitness accounts and official reports,” Nims said, “many of the civilians were executed. They were killed by the Israeli occupation forces, including medical staff, doctors, and nurses; they were purposefully executed by the Israeli soldiers.”

Some witnesses said the Israeli military bulldozed many buildings, burying the dead in the rubble.

Meanwhile, having shut out the chief international aid agency, UNRWA, from operating in Gaza, Israel moved on to also dissuade other groups from carrying out humanitarian work in the territory. Multiple airstrikes on workers from World Central Kitchen killed seven on Monday night. They were citizens of various countries, including the U.S., Canada, Poland, Britain, Australia, and Palestine.

The body of a worker wearing a World Central Kitchen shirt lies on the ground at the Al-Aqsa Hospital. This man, along with six other aid workers, were killed by Israel in targeted air strikes after they left a food distribution warehouse. | AP

The WCK workers were traveling in a well-marked convoy after leaving a food warehouse. They had coordinated their travel and locations with the IDF, leaving no doubt that Israel knew exactly who they were. The three vehicles in the convoy were hit in separate targeted attacks, leaving a trail of destruction a mile-and-a-half long as survivors tried to escape.

Aid ships bound for Gaza from Cyprus have been turned around, and multiple aid agencies have said they can no longer operate in Gaza. Another mission accomplished for the IDF.

Israeli missiles also rained down outside the borders of Gaza in recent days, as the periodic bombing of Lebanon by the IDF continued and an attack was launched on the Iranian Consulate in Damascus, killing seven senior Iranian security officials.

By bringing countries the U.S. had designated as enemies into the fight, the actions in Lebanon and Syria serve as insurance for Israel to ensure that the U.S. keeps the weapons coming even in the face of global outrage over the IDF’s annihilation of the people of Gaza.

The strategy is working.

Bombs away

Included in the latest secret shipments to Israel—exposed by the Washington Post—are billions of dollars of super-bombs and technologically advanced fighter jets, all paid for by the American people.

Over 1,800 lethal MK84 bombs are now bound for Israel to refill its dwindling stocks. First deployed by the U.S. in Vietnam, this unguided weapon is designed for destruction, with the capability to kill everyone within a 400-yard radius—an area equal to 58 soccer fields. There are also 500 new MK82 500-pound bombs in the arms package.

The IDF has used the MK84 extensively in Gaza to level apartment buildings, schools, and hospitals. It is not a bomb that would be used if Israel was actually trying to target Hamas fighters. Warfare experts blame it for the soaring death toll in Gaza, which is already over 33,000.

“The use of 2,000-pound bombs in an area as densely populated as Gaza means it will take decades for communities to recover,” John Chappell, an official with CIVIC, a D.C.-based group focused on minimizing civilian harm in conflict, told the press.

Marc Galasco, a former U.N. war crimes investigator, said, “Even in both Iraq Wars, it was never that dense.”

It’s not just bombs, though, that are being handed over to the IDF. Twenty-five F-35A fighter jets and parts worth $2.5 billion of U.S. taxpayer money will also join in the killing effort in Gaza soon.

The State Department signed off on the planes last week, but Congress wasn’t even told. A government official said the jets were given to Israel under the terms of a pre-existing 2008 agreement, so there was no need to notify lawmakers.

“The devastation that we’ve seen for communities in Gaza is, unfortunately, co-signed by the United States,” said CIVIC’s Chappell. “Too much of it is carried out by bombs that were made in the United States.”

It doesn’t look like that’s about to change anytime soon.

Halting the flow

The Biden administration has made it clear, again and again, that halting weapons shipments to Israel is off-limits. Calls for a temporary ceasefire? Fine. Air-dropping some packets of food? Ok. But cutting off the means of killing? No way.

“We have continued to support Israel’s right to defend itself,” said a White House official when questioned about the latest shipments. “Conditioning aid has not been our policy.”

It’s also clear that just pinpointing Netanyahu or trying to “expand the rift” between him and Biden is no strategy for peace, as some have claimed.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confers with Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, right, during a meeting with President Joe Biden to discuss the war against Gaza, in Tel Aviv on October 18, 2023. Removing Netanyahu is not enough; truly changing the calculus for peace in Palestine will require a change in the long-term U.S. imperial Middle East strategy, which prioritizes Israel as a key agent in the region. | Miriam Alster / Pool Photo via AP

The latest arms shipments were apparently expedited after Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant visited Washington and asked for the arms to be sent right away. The visit by Gallant was portrayed by many of the Biden administration’s liberal supporters as proof the president had leverage in trying to prevent an attack on Rafah and nudge Israel toward a ceasefire.

Gallant’s plea for more bombs proved there is little if any difference of opinion, however, among the Israeli political elite when it comes to destroying Gaza and its people. That’s why as dangerous as Netanyahu is, removing him alone is not enough.

In the long term, U.S. imperialism must be pressured to stop using Israel as its Middle East enforcer, the agent that lines up reactionary Arab states on the side of the U.S. to oppose those who don’t toe Washington’s line. Israel remains a key component of the U.S.’ divide-and-dominate strategy in the region, and overcoming that challenge is something the peace movement still has to work toward overcoming.

Biden is thus wedded to an imperialist necessity, but it is one that increasingly threatens his own electoral interests. The ever-more-depraved actions of the Israeli military and official U.S. support for them threaten the unity of the anti-MAGA coalition Biden will need to beat Trump in November.

Will Biden find the courage to break the binds of imperialist strategy that have tied him to the genocidal IDF war machine? Will he ever halt the flow of weapons?

Only if the ceasefire movement and the people of the United States force him to.

As with all op-eds published by People’s World, this article reflects the views of its author.

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C.J. Atkins
C.J. Atkins

C.J. Atkins is the managing editor at People's World. He holds a Ph.D. in political science from York University in Toronto and has a research and teaching background in political economy and the politics and ideas of the American left.