Who are the leading suppliers to the Israeli army?

Public scrutiny over military aid to Israel has increased in the wake of its war in Gaza following the deadly Hamas attack on October 7 and amid concern over the rising number of civilian casualties.

Since October, a handful of countries have provided Israel with hundreds of millions of dollars worth of weapons and military equipment, although the details of many of the transfers remain shrouded in secrecy. The United States and Germany – which supply the vast majority of weapons imported by Israel – say the transfers are essential to support Israel’s security.

This month, the International Court of Justice began considering an appeal over German arms exports to Israel, while the 47-member UN Human Rights Council passed a non-binding resolution calling for an end to the “sale, transfer and diversion of weapons, ammunition and other military equipment” to Israel. This is what you need to know.

What military aid does the United States provide to Israel?

Since World War II, the United States has provided more military aid to Israel than to any other country. In recent years, military aid amounts to more than $3 billion annually. Most US military aid to Israel comes from the Foreign Military Financing program, which provides grants that Israel uses to purchase US military goods and services.

The United States is the largest supplier to the Israeli military, accounting for 69 percent of its total weapons imports between 2019 and 2023, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

The United States’ stated goal is to allow Israel to maintain a “qualitative military advantage” over its neighbors. Israel views Iran and the militant groups it supports as existential threats, and the US has noted that Iran has “repeatedly threatened to destroy” Israel. The United States has also maintained a weapons arsenal in Israel since the 1990s and some of the stored shells were redirected to the Israeli military following the October 7 Hamas attack.

Since the war began in October, the United States has reiterated that its support for Israel’s security is “unwavering” and has continued to back up that pledge with more than 100 separate foreign military sales to Israel, including thousands of precision-guided munitions, small diameter bombs, bunker hunters, light weapons and other lethal aids.

Details of many of the military exports are not public, so it is unclear how many of the recent transfers represent a routine supply, as opposed to an escalation aimed at replenishing munitions used in the Israeli bombing of Gaza.

Washington announced two major military sales to Israel since the war began: a $106.5 million sale of 14,000 rounds of tank ammunition and equipment and a $147.5 million sale of 155 mm artillery shells and related equipment.

American-made weapons have been widely used in Gaza since October 7, although it is unclear when they were purchased or delivered. In the first weeks after the Hamas assault, the United States accelerated the delivery of thousands of bombs and artillery to Israel by military airlift, in addition to authorizing the transfer of weapons that the United States has stored in Israel, officials familiar with the matter said.

In March, the Biden administration authorized the transfer of 1,800 2,000-pound MK84 bombs and 500 500-pound MK82 bombs to Israel, The Post reported. The 2,000-pound bombs have been linked to previous mass casualty events throughout the Israeli military campaign in Gaza.

On April 1, the same day that Israeli airstrikes killed seven World Central Kitchen aid workers, the State Department approved the transfer of more than 1,000 500-pound MK82 bombs, more than 1,000 small-diameter bombs and MK80 bomb fuses, all of which came from authorizations granted by Congress several years before the latest hostilities between Israel and Hamas began, U.S. officials said. Officials said those weapons transfers are not expected to be delivered before 2025 or later.

What weapons and military equipment does Germany export to Israel?

Germany is the second largest supplier to the Israeli military, according to SIPRI. According to their estimates, Israel imported about 30 percent of its weapons between 2019 and 2023 from German manufacturers. The military commitments reflect the long-standing sense of historical responsibility felt toward Israel by German leaders, who cite Germany’s “Holocaust responsibility.”

German arms exports to Israel increased tenfold last year compared to 2022, reaching $354 million. Since October, Berlin says it has approved the sale of weapons and military equipment to Israel worth about $275 million, according to a filing by its Foreign Ministry lawyers at the International Court of Justice on Tuesday.

The vast majority of that aid – about $218 million – was approved in October, and export approvals fell sharply in the following months. Germany has argued that around 98% of its authorized exports after the war were not for “weapons of war” but for “other military equipment,” a category that can include items such as helmets or communications equipment.

However, aid groups and nonprofit research organizations have argued that comprehensive data on arms exports is incomplete and that weapons components may not be officially classified as “weapons of war.”

Germany says it has only authorized the export of four “weapons of war” since October: three were “test or practice equipment,” while the fourth was for the transfer of 3,000 portable anti-tank weapons.

Berlin also approved in November the export of 500,000 rounds of ammunition for machine guns, submachine guns or other fully automatic or semi-automatic firearms, although it says they are only intended for training purposes.

Which other countries have exported military material to Israel, and which have stopped doing so?

Other countries have also supplied military hardware, although some have recently halted their exports.

Italy was the world’s third largest arms exporter to Israel between 2019 and 2023, accounting for 0.9 percent of Israel’s imports in the period, according to SIPRI. It announced in late 2023 that it had stopped sending weapons to Israel, but some arms exports continued, and the government later said it was fulfilling existing orders on the condition that the weaponry not be used against civilians.

Britain says its arms exports account for 0.02 percent of Israel’s total military imports. In 2022, the last full year for which data is available, London exported $53 million worth of military hardware to Israel. Its courts dismissed a legal challenge against its arms sales to Israel – yet hundreds of UK legal experts have written to the government, urging it to end arms exports to the country.

Canada has not approved any arms export permits to Israel since January 8, the country’s Foreign Ministry said in March, adding that the pause will continue until it can ensure Israel’s “full compliance” with the export controls.

He said export permits approved before Jan. 8 “will remain in effect.” The Spanish Foreign Ministry stated in February that the country had not authorized any arms sales to Israel since the war broke out.

However, the newspaper El Diario reported that military exports approved before the war had been sent to Israel after October 7. In the Netherlands, a court in February ordered the government to suspend the export of F-35 fighter jet parts to Israel within seven days due to the clear risk of serious violations of international humanitarian law, following a lawsuit brought by Oxfam Novib and two other rights groups. The Dutch government has appealed the order to the Supreme Court.

What has Biden said about sending US weapons to Israel?

Although President Biden has increasingly used tough rhetoric when discussing the war, including blunt comments criticizing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s approach to Gaza, he has not reciprocated any significant policy shift in his administration’s unwavering support for Israel.

In February, Biden issued a national security memorandum requiring countries that receive American weapons, including Israel, to provide “credible and reliable written assurances” that they will use American defense material in accordance with international humanitarian and other law.

Israel provided written assurances to the State Department in March, and the State Department must share its assessment with Congress by May 8. After an Israeli strike on April 1 killed seven World Central Kitchen aid workers, including an American with dual Canadian citizenship, Biden declared that US policy toward Gaza would change if Israel did not do more to protect civilians and humanitarian workers and allow the entry of more humanitarian aid.

Leo Sands, Niha Masih and Adam Taylor