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The US Military Sealift Command, on December 31st, published a solicitation for bids from shipping companies to ship two boats, each containing 168 TEU's (twenty-foot equivalent container units) of ammunition, from Greece to Israel.
The description of the vessels required was brief:
“Required: Request US or foreign flag container vessel (coaster) to move approximately 168 TEU's [standard twenty-foot containers] in each of two consecutive voyages both containing ammunition.”
Bids were requested by January 5th, but it is unclear whether bids were submitted or if a contract was awarded by January 8th.
According to the US Military's solicitation, "Funds are not currently available for this procurement. In the event funds remain unavailable, this procurement will be cancelled without an award being made."
During the Israeli assault on Lebanon in the summer of 2006, in which 1,200 Lebanese people were killed, 90 percent of whom were civilians (and 168 Israelis were killed, 10 percent of whom were civilians), the US Congress approved funding for an 'emergency' shipment of cluster bombs to Israel, after Israel had dropped their entire store of the banned weapon on civilian population centers in southern Lebanon.
Over one million cluster bomblets were dropped in southern Lebanon, largely due to the US 'emergency' shipment. Many of those bomblets remain on the ground in Lebanon, unexploded two years later. They continue to kill and maim Lebanese civilians, mainly children and farmers, who come across the unexploded bomblets and step on them or pick them up.
According to Wired magazine's security correspondent Nathan Hodge, the current solicitation for a shipment bid is the first such solicitation in several months. He said that, according to his research, the most recent announcement of a potential arms delivery to Israel was posted by the Defense Security Cooperation Agency on Sept. 29 -- for sale of F-35 Joint Strike Fighters. Earlier that month, the agency notified Congress of the pending upgrades to Israeli Patriot missile fire units as well as sales of the GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb.
Israel has long used US weapons in its attacks on the civilian population of the two Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories, the West Bank and Gaza. In addition to $3 billion in direct aid a year, the US government supplies around $3 billion in weapons transfers to Israel, and $6 billion in loan guarantees (none of which have ever been repaid by Israel).