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Which Countries Fund and Supply Israel’s Military?

WorldMiddle EastWhich Countries Fund and Supply Israel’s Military?


Mounting international condemnation of the civilian suffering wrought by Israel’s military offensive in Gaza has put a spotlight on countries that are the biggest suppliers of funding and arms to Israel’s armed forces.

In the United States, by far Israel’s biggest military supplier, Democratic lawmakers are putting increasing pressure on President Biden to condition future military aid on Israel doing more to protect Gaza’s civilians. Germany, the second-largest arms supplier to Israel, this week defended itself at the United Nations’ highest court against allegations that its weapons sales made it complicit in genocide against Palestinians in Gaza.

Even governments that account for a far smaller portion of aid or weapons sales to Israel are facing heated domestic debates and legal challenges over those supplies — with parliamentary votes or court orders putting a stop to exports in some countries.

Here is a look at the biggest suppliers to Israel’s military:

The United States has a long history of sending aid to Israel, stretching back to the 1940s. In recent decades, most of the assistance has been in the form of military aid. In 2016, the Obama administration signed a 10-year agreement to supply Israel with $3.8 billion annually, most of that in foreign military financing grants, which allow Israel to buy American weaponry.

From 2019 to 2023, the United States supplied 69 percent of Israel’s arms imports, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, which tracks the global weapons trade. President Biden has also been pushing for $14 billion in additional spending for Israel and for U.S. military operations in the Middle East, though approval for the funding remains stalled in Congress.

While support for Israel once had reliable bipartisan support in Washington, the humanitarian crisis in Gaza has prompted a chorus of Democrats in Congress to urge Mr. Biden to leverage American weapons sales to try to change Israel’s decision making in the war.

“My concern is that particularly when those bombs are coming from this country, we have a responsibility as well,” Senator Angus King, an independent from Maine, said at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Tuesday.

The State Department said in March that it had received written assurances from Israel — as the United States requires of all countries that receive American arms — that the supplied weapons would be used in accordance with international humanitarian law.

In 2023, Germany approved sending military equipment to Israel valued at about $353 million, according to data from the country’s economics ministry, roughly 10 times more than what was approved the previous year. From 2019 to 2023, German exports made up 30 percent of the arms bought by Israel, according to the Stockholm institute.

In the past, Germany’s leaders have considered support for Israel to be a historic duty to atone for the Holocaust. In hearings this week at the International Court of Justice, a U.N. court in The Hague, lawyers for Germany pushed back against arguments that it was abetting genocide in Gaza by arguing that most of Germany’s military exports to Israel since the war began in October were nonlethal, including protective gear and communications equipment.

From 2019 to 2023, Italy was the third-largest seller of arms to Israel, according to the Stockholm institute, though it accounted for just 0.9 percent of Israel’s military imports.

Since the war in Gaza began, those sales have been a source of contention.

Italy’s foreign minister in January told reporters that all weapons shipments to Israel had been suspended since Oct. 7. The defense minister, however, told the country’s Parliament that exports had continued, but that only previously agreed-upon orders were being sent, according to news reports.

Britain, whose defense exports to Israel totaled about $53 million in 2022, has said it will not suspend those sales despite growing pressure from opposition lawmakers. Foreign Secretary David Cameron, at a news conference alongside Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken in Washington, said on Tuesday that based upon the “most recent advice” about Israel’s conduct of the war in Gaza, Britain’s position on military exports was “unchanged.”



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