You turn to us for voices you won't hear anywhere else.

Sign up for Democracy Now!'s Daily Digest to get our latest headlines and stories delivered to your inbox every day.

State Dept. Whistleblower: Biden Is Skirting U.S. Law by Rushing More Bombs & Warplanes to Israel

Media Options

The Washington Post reports the Biden administration has recently authorized the transfer of billions of dollars in bombs and fighter jets to Israel. The arms package includes more than 1,800 MK-84 2,000-pound bombs, which can be used to level entire city blocks. The U.S. is also sending 500 MK-82 500-pound bombs and 25 F-35 fighter jets. “It has been doing this on a weekly basis since the conflict began, just an open tab of arms,” says Josh Paul, former State Department official who worked on arms transfers before resigning in October to protest increasing arms sales to Israel. “These are the arms that Israel is using to kill not only thousands of civilians but hundreds of aid workers, as well.”

Related Story

StoryJun 11, 2024U.S. Jewish Army Intel Officer Quits over Gaza, Says “Impossible” Not to See Echoes of Holocaust
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!,, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González.

The deadly attack on the World Central Kitchen convoy comes as the Biden administration continues to send massive amounts of arms to Israel. Reuters is reporting the Biden administration is considering a new $18 billion arms package for Israel that would include dozens of F-15 fighter jets. This is in addition to the recent U.S. approval of 1,800 2,000-pound bombs and 500 500-pound bombs, as well as 25 F-35 fighter jets.

We’re joined now by Josh Paul, a veteran State Department official who worked on arms deals and resigned in protest of a push to increase arms sales to Israel amidst its siege on Gaza. He’s the former director of congressional and public affairs for the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs in the State Department, where he worked for 11 years, now a nonresident fellow at DAWN — that’s Democracy for the Arab World Now.

Josh, thanks so much for joining us again. I mean, in light of what we are talking about right now, the World Central Kitchen suspending its operations in Gaza after their six workers and their Palestinian driver were hit by airstrikes, Israeli airstrikes, can you talk about this latest news — first The Washington Post exposed the sale of the F-35 fighter jets and other bombs, and now Reuters talking about additional weapon sales to Israel — what this means, how they’re used by Israel?

JOSH PAUL: Thank you for having me.

And perhaps I’ll start with that latter point, because I think this is important context. The strike on the World Central Kitchen comes on the same day that Israel wrapped up its operations in Al-Shifa Hospital, that has left the ground littered with decaying body parts, and nor is it by any means the first strike on humanitarian aid workers. In February, Israel murdered U.S. citizen Mousa Shawwa, logistics coordinator for the charity Anera. In November, it murdered three doctors from Médecins Sans Frontières, Doctors Without Borders. And in December, it murdered Reem Abu Lebdeh, who was a board member of MSF UK. And, of course, in February, after having given direct permission for an ambulance to retrieve 6-year-old Hind Rajab from the car, where she sat with the bodies of her dead parents, Israel struck that ambulance, killing the medics who were on their way to save her.

So, you know, this is a continuing pattern. And in that context, as you note, last week, the U.S. authorized the transfer of over 2,000 more bombs to Israel. This week, I anticipate it will authorize the transfer of a thousand more. It has been doing this on a weekly basis since the conflict began, just an open tap of arms. And these are the arms that Israel is using to kill not only thousands of civilians but hundreds of aid workers, as well.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Josh Paul, this use of U.S. weapons in this way by Israel, we’re talking about not only the killing of aid workers, but the attack on consular offices this week in Syria, of the diplomatic offices of Iran, and the banning of Al Jazeera. What does U.S. law say about how weapons can be used by states that receive them from the United States, when it comes to violations of human rights?

JOSH PAUL: Well, that’s a very good question. There are a variety of laws that should, in theory, apply here, ranging from the requirement that U.S.-provided arms be used in accordance with international law to more specific laws, that, for example, U.S. assistance cannot be provided to a country that is restricting the delivery of U.S.-funded humanitarian assistance. We have seen many examples of Israel restricting, if not striking, the delivery of humanitarian assistance.

So, I think these laws all need to be questioned — called into question, you know, and the important thing here is that that’s not what is happening. In fact, the Biden administration has on purpose not — in seeking legal opinions on whether the arms we are providing to Israel are being used in accordance with the law, it has also not been seeking assessments from the intelligence community of Israel’s actions using U.S. weapons. It is essentially sticking its fingers in its ears and, you know, covering its eyes and saying, you know, “We don’t know what’s going on.” It is making a purposeful decision to not know what is going on. And I have never seen anything like it in my time in government.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Is it even possible, when you’re dealing with 2,000-pound bombs, to talk about protecting civilian life, as Israel continues to do?

JOSH PAUL: Not in the context of a place like Gaza. This is an area, you know, the size of metro Cleveland, basically. And it has dropped thousands of these bombs in that space. It is impossible in that circumstance to talk about the principles of discrimination and proportionality that are central to the laws of armed conflict and international humanitarian law.

AMY GOODMAN: On Monday, journalists questioned U.S. State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller about the latest U.S. arms transfer to Israel.

HUMEYRA PAMUK: I understand the fulfilling can take years, but are you basically saying that the authorization of the transfer coming in these recent weeks was a coincidence?

MATTHEW MILLER: So, I’m not saying it’s a coincidence. Israel has been engaged in a military conflict. And, of course, when you are engaged in a military conflict, you deplete your military stocks, and you need to —

HUMEYRA PAMUK: So there was a request in recent weeks for the —

MATTHEW MILLER: And you need to see those — I’m not going to —

HUMEYRA PAMUK: — for the additional fulfilled — for the fulfillment of these particular —

MATTHEW MILLER: So, I’m not going to get into —

HUMEYRA PAMUK: — weapons.

MATTHEW MILLER: I’m not going to get — as is always the case, I’m not going to get into the timings of exact requests from here.


MATTHEW MILLER: Let me just — I’ll be quick. That’s a — but this is a process that we keep Congress fully apprised of, our relevant committees.


MATTHEW MILLER: But when you see these types of requests and when they get publicly reported — and you have to remember that Israel is in an armed conflict and is expending a great deal of defense materiel, and some of that needs to be replenished for Israel’s long-term security.

HUMEYRA PAMUK: Right. And my final thing on this is, like, the secretary and a lot of senior officials from this administration basically said far too many Palestinians have been killed. But when you go and make the — and we know that the administration’s policy hasn’t changed: It is not conditioning weapons to Israel. But when you go and make such an authorization of the transfer in recent weeks, even if the actual weapons transfer has been approved years ago, don’t you think that is going to damage the weight of your word, your credibility, and basically your sincerity in saying that far too many Palestinians have been killed?

MATTHEW MILLER: So, I do not agree with that at all. We have been very clear that we want to see Israel do everything it can to minimize civilian casualties. We have made clear that they need to do every — that they need to operate at all times in full compliance with international humanitarian law. At the same time, we are committed to Israel’s right to self-defense. …

REPORTER: Just to follow up, a 2,000-pound bomb is self-defensive, in your opinion?

MATTHEW MILLER: It is a — it is a — so, they need to have the ability to defend themself against a very well-armed adversary, like I said, Iran, Hezbollah, which has thousands and thousands of fighters and quite sophisticated materiel and quite sophisticated weaponry, as we’ve seen them deploy — excuse me — against Israel in the last few days. So, yes, they do need the modern military equipment to defend themselves against those adversaries.

REPORTER: Yeah, but they’ve been those in Gaza before, beginning in Gaza.

MATTHEW MILLER: And we have made clear to them that when — that whatever — whatever weapon they use in Gaza, be it a bomb, be it a tank round, be it anything, that we expect them to use those weapons in full compliance with international humanitarian law. And we have said it — we have had very frank conversations with them about the fact that far too many civilians have died through their operations and that they need to do better in taking into account the need to minimize civilian harm. And we’ll continue to do that.

AMY GOODMAN: And this is State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller just last week.

MATTHEW MILLER: We have not found them to be in violation of international humanitarian law, either when it comes to the conduct of the war or when it comes to the provision of humanitarian assistance.

AMY GOODMAN: I assume, Josh Paul, that you know Matthew Miller well. You worked at the State Department for 11 years. Your response?

JOSH PAUL: So, I think there’s a lot to unpack there. Just going back to his last point, again, the point here is that they have not found Israel to not be in compliance with international law, because they have not asked their own lawyers whether that is the case or not. So, for as long as they do not ask the question, they do not get the answer that they do not want.

He also noted, and the reporter who was interviewing him noted, that, you know, this was a case formerly approved by Congress. This was a — for the F-35s. This was a case for F-35s approved by Congress in 2008. That was before the first Iron — Cast Lead, the first significant Israel-Hamas exchange of fire in 2009. And, you know, it comes now in the context of an immediate and ongoing conflict. So, the idea that you can take an authorization that Congress gave in a peacetime context, in a completely different context, and say that this gives us the approval to move forward with these arms transfers now in this new context is very questionable.

And, of course, you know, as was also noted, Israel is continuing to use these bombs — regardless of what Matt said, you know, that it may be able to use them against Hezbollah or against Iran, it is using them in Gaza. And by continuing to provide these arms at the rate that we are doing so, what we are essentially doing is letting Israel choose wherever it wishes to use them, rather than forcing it to make the hard choice of what is actually the threat for which it needs these weapons.

AMY GOODMAN: Josh Paul, we want to thank you very much for being with us, veteran State Department official who worked on arms deals and resigned in protest of a push to increase arms sales to Israel amidst its siege on Gaza. He’s now a nonresident fellow at Democracy for the Arab World Now, or DAWN.

The original content of this program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Please attribute legal copies of this work to Some of the work(s) that this program incorporates, however, may be separately licensed. For further information or additional permissions, contact us.

Next story from this daily show

Active-Duty U.S. Airman, Inspired by Aaron Bushnell, on Hunger Strike Outside White House over Gaza

Non-commercial news needs your support

We rely on contributions from our viewers and listeners to do our work.
Please do your part today.
Make a donation