White House pressing Congress to approve F-15 sale to Israel despite criticism over airstrike accident


The White House is urging Congress to approve an $18 billion sale of F-15 fighter jets to Israel this week, even as the Biden administration has ramped up criticism of Israeli airstrikes.

Biden’s State Department delivered notices to two Congressional committees asking them to begin the review process for the deal. In addition to selling more than 50 planes, the deal would also include munitions and training services, according to the New York Times.

U.S. officials, however, clarified to the outlet that the F-15s would not be delivered for at least another five years.

F-15 fighter jets already serve as the backbone of Israel’s air force. Israeli Defense Forces rely on them as a key deterrent against regional powers like Iran, and have also used them to carry out airstrikes in Gaza.

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An Israeli air force F-15I fighter jet takes off during an air force pilots' graduation ceremony at Hatzerim air base in southern Israel December 26, 2013. REUTERS/Nir Elias (ISRAEL - Tags: MILITARY TRANSPORT) - GM1E9CR01JM01

An Israeli Air Force F-15 fighter jet takes off during an air force pilots’ graduation ceremony at Hatzerim air base in southern Israel . (Reuters)

The deal comes as the Biden administration is growing increasingly critical of Israel’s airstrike campaign in Gaza. White House officials have urged Israel to minimize civilian casualties, and while Israel insists it is doing all it can, dissatisfaction from the White House continues.

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Those concerns surged earlier this week when an Israeli airstrike mistakenly killed seven aid workers in Gaza. The aid workers were there with the World Central Kitchen, an international group that works to address food crises.

President Joe Biden

The White House is urging Congress to approve an $18 billion sale of F-15 fighter jets to Israel this week, even as the Biden administration has ramped up criticism of Israeli airstrikes. (Chris Kleponis/CNP/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the incident “tragic” in a statement on Tuesday, adding that Israel was investigating the mistaken strike.

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National Security Council spokesman John Kirby had harsh words regarding the Israeli strike during a White House press briefing on Tuesday, saying the administration was “outraged.”

“We expect a broader investigation to be conducted and to be done so in a swift and comprehensive manner. We hope those findings will be made public and that there is appropriate accountability,” Kirby told reporters.

John Kirby

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby had harsh words regarding the Israeli strike during a White House press briefing on Tuesday, saying the administration was “outraged.” (AP/Evan Vucci)

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“More than 200 aid workers have been killed in this conflict, making it one of the worst for aid workers in recent history,” he continued. “This incident is emblematic of a larger problem and evidence of why distribution of aid in Gaza has been so challenging. But beyond the strike, what is clear is that the IDF must do much more to improve deconfliction processes so civilians and humanitarian aid workers are protected.”

Still, Kirby stressed the need to continue supporting Israel in the war.

“They’re still under a viable threat of Hamas,” he said. “We’re still going to make sure they can defend themselves and the 7th of October doesn’t happen again. That doesn’t mean that it’s a free pass that we look the other way when something like this happens.”



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