Former U.S. President Barack Obama may have often appeared to give Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu the cold shoulder.
However, you might be surprised to learn that it was during Obama’s administration the U.S. signed the largest military aid package with Israel in American history.
So, while on the surface of things, the U.S. and Israel had a fraught relationship during Obama’s tenure, Israel was still receiving billions of dollars of American taxpayer dollars.
Already, Israel gets $3.1 billion in taxpayer money every year — which is, by the way, more than any other country by far — however, last year, a $38 billion 10-year military aid agreement was signed.
But what does the Israeli government do with so much American taxpayer money in financial assistance?
Here’s a brief explainer:
Israel regularly evicts Palestinians from their homes and demolishes their property in order to build Jewish settlements, mostly in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
This “expansion” by the Israeli government is illegal, as per international law. In fact, just in December, the United Nations Security Council unanimously approved a resolution calling settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem “a flagrant violation under international law.”
Israel, nevertheless, has continued the construction of these illegal settlements.
What’s more, the Knesset passed a law recently, which, in a nutshell, legalizes land theft from Palestinian owners in the West Bank. While Palestinians, according to the “Regulation Bill” will be compensated for the land with other land or money, they are not allowed to negotiate their terms.
Dominate Palestinians’ Water Supply:
Israel uses any means necessary to make life harder for Palestinians. Those means also include control over their water sources.
“Since it occupied the West Bank in 1967, Israel has laid hands on Palestinian water resources through discriminatory water-sharing agreements that prevented Palestinians from maintaining or developing their water infrastructure through its illegal planning and permit regime,” Al Jazeera reports.
Consequently, Palestinians depend on Israel for their basic water requirements.
Restrict Palestinian Movement:
Since the 1990s, the Israeli military has erected hundreds of roadblocks or checkpoints with the stated aim of security and protection of its settlements.
However, these so-called checkpoints are nothing short of cages in which hundreds of Palestinians — who wish to travel to Israel for work purposes — are forced to stand every day for inspection.
This process often results in fatal delays if, let’s say, a Palestinian needs immediate access to a hospital.
In October 2015, Human Rights Watch reported the death of a 65-year-old Palestinian woman who suffered from respiratory problems. She died after Israeli police sealed roads leading to a hospital.
What’s worse, despite the woman’s health condition, her sons, who were trying to drive her to a hospital, were harassed at an Israeli checkpoint.
“We got out of the car,” Youssef, the woman’s son who was driving, told HRW. “They took Kareem [the younger son], pointing guns at both of us, pushed him against the wall and searched him. I was screaming that my mother can’t get out of the car, that she’s unconscious.”
Maintain An Apartheid State:
Using its military and economic might, Israel has forcibly driven the hapless Palestinian into a corner. They have no political or social rights.
Essentially, Israel has left Palestinians with two options, both of which are problematic: Either give up their dream of a Palestinian homeland or continue to live under the existing apartheid.
“The apartheid [in Israel] is not based on racism as it was in South Africa but it’s based on the desire of a minority of Israelis to acquire land that belongs to the Palestinians and to retain that land and to exclude the Palestinians from their own property and subjugate them so that they can‘t arise and demonstrate their disapproval of being robbed of their own property. That‘s what‘s happening in the West Bank,” former U.S. President Jimmy Carter explained in a 2006 interview on NBC News.
The conflict between Israel and Palestine has not only ruined the previous generation of Palestinians — it has also messed up many generations to come.
It’s an inevitable consequence when children are frequently exposed to hostilities and aggression.
Palestinian children regularly witness their families being forcibly evicted from their homes, under the supervision of heavily armed Israeli police and soldiers, so that other people, who have no claim on the property, whatsoever, can be “settled” there.
Human rights organizations routinely accuse Israel of torturing, publicly caging and sexually abusing Palestinian minors. Nonprofit Defense for Children International-Palestine (DCI-P) stated in a 2014 report that approximately 98 percent children are not even informed of the reason for their arrest.
The brutality has prompted reprisals in the form of stabbing attacks by Palestinians, a majority of whom are young people, mostly minors, which mostly result in the perpetrators getting shot at or fatally shot.
Ma’an News Agency recorded the killings of 275 individuals from Oct. 1, 2015, to Sept. 30, 2016, and found of the total death toll, 236 were Palestinians (85.8 percent of deaths), 34 were Israeli (12.4 percent).
Bomb Innocent Civilians:
In 2014, Israel’s 50-day military offensive in the Gaza Strip claimed the lives of 2,200 Palestinians, of whom 1,492 were civilians, according to the United Nations.
Moreover, rebuilding Gaza after the war will take at least a century at the current rate of progress. And even that rate slows down due to on-and-off restrictions by Israel on construction materials.
Emboldened by the new Trump administration, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will continue to commit these atrocities, using American taxpayer money.