In its May 2021 war with Gaza militants, Israel used American weapons to destroy U.S. humanitarian projects and damage an American-owned Coca-Cola bottling plant, according to a report by The Intercept.
Damaged or destroyed facilities included:
Hospitals, water treatment and sanitation facilities funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)
A dozen factories built with USAID money
Dozens of schools operated by the U.S. State Department-backed United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)
More than a hundred UNRWA facilities were struck, causing more than a million dollars in damage.
The impact is far more than financial. As The Intercept‘s Daniel Boguslaw elaborates:
In Khan Yunis, Rafa, and Beit Lahia, wastewater treatment infrastructure and water reservoirs funded by USAID, which the U.S. government spent millions to construct, were destroyed by aerial attacks that affected more than 300,000 civilians. Ninety-seven percent of the water in Gaza is contaminated, resulting in a widespread public health crisis, rendered even worse by the destruction of U.S.-funded water infrastructure.
The May 2021 war took a steep toll on Gaza, with more than 240 Palestinians killed and nearly 2,000 wounded. Four thousand rocket attacks from Gaza on Israel killed 12.
Israel’s periodic devastation of Gaza is often characterized as “mowing the grass.” Yoav Galant, a former Israeli military commander, embraced the philosophy in a radio interview: “This sort of maintenance needs to be carried out from time to time, perhaps even more often.”
Though Galant and others would suggest such “mowing” is focused on Palestinian military power, Israel’s routine destruction of hospitals, water treatment facilities and other civilian infrastructure suggests Israel strives to keep Gaza in a state of perpetual economic devastation.
A Coca-Cola factory also came under 2021 Israeli bombardment. Its owner, U.S. citizen Zahi Khouri, said, “We had thousands of pallets burned, and there was damage to the logistics area. There was damage in the industrial estate, but what was also damaged was the investment of Coca-Cola in a project through Mercy Corps where we built a water purification station for a refugee camp.”
In a dark twist, the destruction of U.S.-funded civilian infrastructure is accomplished with American-made and/or -funded weapons. The United States and Israel are currently operating within a memorandum of understanding by which Americans are on the hook for $38 billion in military aid over a 10-year period ending in 2028.
That’s just a minimum. Congress is free to throw more money at Israel along the way—such as the $1 billion for Iron Dome missile defense it approved in March by a 420-9 vote in the House.
Per The Intercept, there’s more to the “special relationship”:
The aid system also provides cash-flow financing, a system resembling layaway, that allows Israel to purchase weapons in the present using money from the future. And it contains an offshore procurement exemption—offered to no other country—that allows Israel to spend U.S. tax dollars on its own weapons industry without disclosing how it spent the money to Congress or the American public.