Conditioning U.S. Aid to Israel Would Be a Mistake

As Israel continues its military campaign to destroy the genocidal, Iranian-backed terrorist organization Hamas following the savage Oct. 7 attacks, some members of the House and Senate seek to condition U.S. security assistance to Israel on other factors. President Joe Biden had called proposals to condition aid “a gigantic mistake” and an “absolutely outrageous” idea when running for president. He was right then, and he would be right now to reject attaching any strings to assistance for our strongest ally in the Middle East.

Israel is not only facing an existential struggle against Hamas, whose genocidal foundational charter calls for killing Jews and destroying Israel. Our ally is also confronting Iran’s regionwide network of terrorist proxies that attack Israeli civilians, U.S. troops, and commercial shipping vessels. In response, we should not only stand beside our partner as Israel defends itself against threats on multiple fronts, but we should also recognize that Israel’s victory against terrorism will be a victory against America’s adversaries and that we therefore must do our utmost to ensure Israel has everything it needs to prevail in this conflict.

Instead, there are growing calls to condition U.S. aid to Israel, seemingly to pressure Israel to reduce civilian casualties in Gaza and/or accept a premature ceasefire. But, if put into practice, this policy would have the opposite effect, drawing out the conflict and putting more civilians in harm’s way. It is strong U.S. support for Israel that will make Israelis and Palestinians safer.

It is Hamas, not Israel, that bears ultimate responsibility for the suffering and death in Gaza. The terrorist group has diverted a vast amount of humanitarian assistance meant for civilians to fuel its own war effort and enrich its leaders instead. It has fired at Palestinian civilians in Gaza fleeing the conflict zone. It hides terrorists and weapons around, in, and under homes, schools, mosques, and hospitals.

The use of human shields is not only a war crime but also a cynical ploy. Hamas intentionally puts Palestinians in Gaza at risk. By making sure that any Israeli attack on it will also necessarily strike civilians or civilian infrastructure, Hamas propagates the idea that Israel wantonly kills innocent Palestinians in contravention of international law.

But nothing could be further from the truth. It is Israel that is protecting Palestinians in Gaza by taking extraordinary measures to protect civilians caught in the crossfire of the war and provide them with an escape route. This includes the leaflets Israel drops, phone calls to individual Palestinians in Gaza, and social media posts ahead of operations; evacuation routes Israel opens daily on which it protects Palestinians in Gaza fleeing the war; the incubators that the Israel Defense Forces transported to Shifa Hospital to care for infants; the willingness to call off strikes when children appear in the target window; and also the precision munitions that Israel uses to strike only its intended target with as little collateral damage as possible.

These precautions are only possible because of U.S. assistance to Israel. Many of the precision-guided munitions, or PGMs, that Israel uses to enable its surgical strikes come from the United States. So, too, do the interceptors for Israel’s Iron Dome missile interceptor system, which secures the air above Israeli civilians and buys time for Israel’s deliberate operations in Gaza.

If cuts or conditions on U.S. aid deprived Israel of either of these important munitions, there would only be more, not fewer, civilian casualties — on both sides. Without Iron Dome, the 11,000 rockets that Hamas has fired would have rained down destruction on Israeli neighborhoods. Unable to defend against these barrages, Israel would have no choice but to move aggressively and swiftly into all of Gaza to eliminate the launchers. Without PGMs, Israel would have to resort to not only using “dumb” bombs but would also have to drop more bombs than it currently does. The result would be far greater devastation of Gaza.

The U.S. can protect civilians, on both sides of the conflict, by continuing to ensure Israel receives as much U.S. assistance as is needed, as expeditiously as possible, to keep its stockpiles full of life-saving munitions. Doing so is also morally right and in the U.S. interest. America must stand beside its partners when they face barbaric attacks, especially when they are fighting enemies, such as Iran’s terrorist network, who are also intent on harming Americans.

It should not be difficult to approve a clean funding bill for Israel. Yet despite a strong bipartisan vote, on Feb. 6, the U.S. House of Representatives failed to achieve the two-thirds majority necessary to pass H.R. 7217, the Israel Security Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2024. As a result, we continue to leave our strongest ally in the Middle East without the life-saving military aid it needs.

Conditioning aid to Israel would be a gigantic mistake. Biden is right to give Israel everything it needs to win this war.

August Pfluger is a U.S. representative for Texas and a former Air Force F-22 fighter pilot who flew nearly 300 combat hours in the Middle East. Don Davis is a U.S. representative for North Carolina and an Air Force veteran. He serves on the House Armed Services Committee, where he is vice ranking member of the Subcommittee on Readiness. Michael Makovsky, Ph.D., is president and chief executive officer of the Jewish Institute for National Security of America.

Originally published in the Washington Examiner.