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Israeli soldiers move a tank at a staging area near the border with Gaza on Oct. 15, 2023. (AP) Israeli soldiers move a tank at a staging area near the border with Gaza on Oct. 15, 2023. (AP)

Israeli soldiers move a tank at a staging area near the border with Gaza on Oct. 15, 2023. (AP)

Louis Jacobson
By Louis Jacobson October 18, 2023

President Joe Biden is planning to ask Congress for more money to support Israel's military response to the Hamas attacks on Oct. 7 that killed more than 1,400 Israelis.

"My administration has been in close touch with your leadership from the first moments of this attack, and we are going to make sure you have what you need to protect your people, to defend your nation," Biden said Oct. 18 during a visit to Tel Aviv.

The Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry said that more than 3,700 Palestinians have been killed since the war began.

The White House proposal, released Oct. 20, would spend almost $106 billion overall, including $61 billion in military aid for Ukraine, $14 billion in military aid to Israel, $14 billion for U.S. border security, $7 billion in military spending focused on the Pacific region, and $9 billion in humanitarian aid, divided into as-yet undetermined shares for Ukraine, Israel, and Gaza.

How does U.S. aid to Israel generally compare with aid to other countries? Here’s a closer look.

Israel has consistently received more U.S. aid than any other country. Since the end of World War II, the U.S. has cumulatively provided Israel with almost $318 billion in aid of all types, including military, economic and humanitarian.

That’s about 70% more than the second- and third-place recipients: Vietnam (because of the Vietnam War) and Egypt (to bolster regional security after Egypt signed a peace agreement with Israel in 1979).

Earlier in its history, Israel, which was established as a state in 1948, received significant economic and humanitarian aid along with military aid. However, as Israel has become wealthier, the U.S. has dramatically reduced its economic and humanitarian aid, while continuing its military aid.

The U.S. has given Israel $3 billion to $4 billion a year in military aid during the past decade and a half.

This spending was outlined in a 10-year, $38 billion memorandum of understanding the two countries signed in 2016. The memorandum cited several priorities, including updating the Israeli air fleet and maintaining the country’s missile defense system. Similar memorandums were signed under the George W. Bush and Bill Clinton administrations.

If the package ends up sending $14 billion to Israel, that will be several times the average annual amount of U.S. military aid to Israel over the past decade and a half. 

In context, the amount of military aid sent to Israel every year is less than one half of 1% of the total U.S. defense budget.

Although military aid to Israel has been consistently high, aid to Ukraine has lapped it, following Russia’s invasion in February 2022.

Combining military, economic, and humanitarian aid, the U.S. gave Ukraine nearly $78 billion in 2022; about $46.8 billion was military aid. That’s significantly larger than the U.S. aid to Israel.

Mark Cancian, a senior adviser with the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., said the new aid would likely help Israel replace military equipment and munitions. It might also include funds that Israel can use to rebuild its military after the war, or to repair damaged buildings and infrastructure, Cancian said.

Whether the U.S. will send aid to boost Israel’s economy remains uncertain.

EDITOR'S NOTE, Oct. 20, 2023: This article has been updated with details on the White House's spending request for military and humanitarian aid.

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Our Sources

USA Facts, "How much aid does the US give to Israel?" Oct. 12, 2023

Council on Foreign Relations, "How Much Aid Has the U.S. Sent Ukraine? Here Are Six Charts," Sept. 21, 2023

Center for Strategic and International Studies, "Can the United States Equip Israel while Simultaneously Equipping Ukraine and Taiwan?" Oct. 12, 2023

ABC News, "Biden drafts $100 billion foreign aid package, including money for Israel and Ukraine," Oct. 18, 2023

PolitiFact, "One year into Russia’s war in Ukraine: A look at U.S. aid, and why the U.S. is involved," Feb. 23, 2023

PolitiFact, "Matt Gaetz oversells role of budgetary dysfunction in adding to the federal debt," Oct. 2, 2023

Interview with Mark Cancian, a senior adviser with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Oct. 18, 2023

The Associated Press, Live updates: Gaza Health Ministry asks anyone with spare liter of fuel to help out hospitals, last updated Oct. 19, 2023

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