America’s role in Operation Cast Lead

The 23 day offensive against Gaza (Dec. 08 – Jan. 09) was named “Operation Cast Lead” — an inside joke to Israelis, according to one blogger. As the operation began on Hannukah, Cast Lead is a reference to a Hannukah song, Lichvod HaHannukah לכבוד החנוכה – in honor of Hannukah.  This is the relevant verse: 

My teacher gave a dreidel to me

A dreidel [made] of cast lead.

Do you know in honor of what?

In honor of Hannukah!

American tax dollars were hard at work in this military operation which took the lives of some 1,400 Palestinians.*

The Gaza Strip is about the size of Manhattan. Imagine this terror raining down on Manhattan for 23 days.

Gaza on New York

The first phase (Dec. 27, 2008 – Jan. 3, 2009) began with Israel’s version of “Shock and Awe” — 64 warplanes hit more than 50 Hamas-related security targets in less than 4 minutes. The IDF reported that more than 100 tons of explosives were dropped in the first 9 hours.

Some Americans might take false-comfort in the notion that “we’re not carrying out this carnage” so we’re not responsible. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The U.S. is financing Israel’s military to the tune of $3 billion per year and it was recently reported that the United States will give Israel $3.4 billion ($9.3 million per day) in defense aid for the fiscal year 2014. To put this in context: about 1/5 of America’s entire foreign aid budget goes to Israel — much more than to any other country in the world.

300 U.S.-supplied F-16 warplanes led the air assault on Gaza in December 2008. The IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) used M-82 and M-84 high explosive “dumb bombs” using precision guidance systems (Paveway II and JDAM Kits) made in the United States. Over the years, Israel has received some 1,500 M-82s and 13,500 M-84s from the United States.

U.S.-made AH-64 Apache attack helicopters and AH-1F Cobra helicopter gunships were also used to deliver death indiscriminately to Palestinian men, women and children.

Israeli officials defend their massive bombardment by pointing out that their high-tech weapons permit them to be precise in targeting the “bad guys” and minimizing civilian loss of life. In fact, just months before Operation Cast Lead was launched, Israel and a U.S. rocket-maker (ATK) launched a joint development of a guidance upgrade kit suitable for the Hydra (unguided rocket) and successfully tested one in October 2008.

Israel has received 100,000s of artillery rounds from the U.S. — including M433 40 mm high-explosive, dual-purpose (HEDP) cartridges, M889A1 81 mm high explosive cartridges, M107 155 mm high explosive artillery rounds, M141 83 mm bunker defeat munitions, and M930 120 mm illuminating cartridges.

“In addition to buying general purpose munitions from the U.S., Israel has also jointly developed and produced with U.S. manufacturers its own artillery ammunition, including the M971 120 mm dual-purpose improved conventional munition used during Operation Cast Lead. …

While most artillery munitions are unguided, Israel and U.S. manufacturer Raytheon jointly developed a GPS-guided mortar in the wake of the 2006 Lebanon war, which went into production in Israel in 2008. The mortars are equipped with satellite navigation and boast a +/- 3 meter range of error.  These munitions were battle tested for the first time during Operation Cast Lead.”

Were Palestinians the guinea pigs for the U.S./Israel military industrial complex? I’ve answered that question for myself.

Some 100 armored CAT D9 bulldozers, specifically modified by the U.S.  manufacturer and Israeli Aerospace Industries to meet Israel’s needs, were used during Operation Cast Lead. Modifications included adding armor and bulletproofing windows to protect operators against IEDs, RPGs, and heavy machine gun and sniper fire. Crew-operated machine guns, smoke projectors, and grenade launchers were added to some units.

For more information about the weapons Israel used during Operation Cast Lead, read here.

Americans should be asking what we’re getting for our investment in Israel’s military? Peace & security in the Middle East? A stable environment for our insatiable petroleum-habit? Or are we financing the laboratory for the next generation of extremists who will never forget the terror that Israel perpetrated during Operation Cast Lead?

Boat with Free Gaza flags at the beach.

Boat with Free Gaza flags at the beach.

* The information in this blog post comes from a report that everyone interested in this issue should read — THE ISRAELI ARSENAL DEPLOYED AGAINST GAZA DURING OPERATION CAST LEAD, IPS Senior Research Associate Michele K. Esposito, Journal of Palestine Studies Vol. XXXVIII, No. 3 (Spring 2009), pp. 175–191, available online at


Filed under Gaza, Israel, US Policy

2 responses to “America’s role in Operation Cast Lead

  1. Linda Moscarella

    You might be interested to know that the photos of the D9 and the new graduates of the Police Academy cannot be found. Operation Cast Lead was a turning point for me. Israel has never been the same for me since.

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