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May/June 2009 Postcard

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DEAR SENATOR:

On March 22 the German cargo shipWehr Elbe, chartered by U.S. Military Sealift Command, unloaded thousands of tons of U.S. arms, including some containing white phosphorus, at the Israeli port of Ashdod. The weapons, we are told, are not part of Israel’s $3 billion-a-year weapons allowance. They were meant to re-enforce a U.S. stockpile in Israel—but Israel can use these munitions if it wants.

You were legally and morally obligated to stop delivery of these weapons when you came into office. By then it was clear that Israel had slaughtered hundreds of civilians and destroyed Gaza. Even Israeli troops, on Feb. 13, began describing their unprovoked assaults on defenseless civilians.

U.S. weapons must not be used in attacks against civilians. Please halt all U.S. arms shipments to Israel until an international investigation clears Israel of committing grave violations of international law. Please re-examine the 10-year agreement to give Israel $30 billion in U.S. military aid. 


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A piece of white phosphorous still burning at the United Nations Relief and Works Agency’s (UNRWA) primary school in Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip, on Jan. 24. (AFP photo/Olivier Laban-Mattei).
   

The U.S. Military Sealift Command began to plan a delivery by sea of a huge shipment of U.S. weapons to Israel in early December, before Israel launched its 22-day attack on Gaza. On Dec. 20 theWehr Elbe, a German cargo ship, loaded 989 standard 20-foot containers of U.S. munitions in Sunny Point, NC and set sail for Astakos, Greece. The Greek government refused to permit the transfer of the weapons onto a Greek ship to transport the containers to Israel. The Wehr Elbewandered around the Mediterranean for weeks until March 22, when it finally unloaded only 325 containers at the Israeli port of Ashdod, just 25 miles north of Gaza. Where the rest of the cargo is stashed is anyone’s guess.

When asked about this weapons shipment on Jan. 13, Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell said the shipment was destined for a U.S. pre-positioned ammunition stockpile in Israel. Under a U.S.-Israel agreement, munitions from this stockpile may be transferred for Israeli use if necessary.

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