Democrats press Trump administration on US gear used by Israel to demolish homes
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Democrats press Trump administration on US gear used by Israel to demolish homes

Group of lawmakers seeking to halt practice of razing of domiciles, enforced against families of suspected attackers and Palestinians who built without permits

Illustration. Israeli security forces stand guard during the demolition of a family home built without a permit in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Al-Tur on April 24, 2013. (Sliman Khader/Flash90)
Illustration. Israeli security forces stand guard during the demolition of a family home built without a permit in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Al-Tur on April 24, 2013. (Sliman Khader/Flash90)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — More than 60 Democrats in the US House of Representatives want the Trump administration to ensure that Israel is using military equipment in compliance with US law, and to press Israel not to use the equipment to demolish Palestinian homes.

The letter to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, spearheaded by Reps. Ro Khanna and Anna Eshoo of California and Steve Cohen of Tennessee, notes recent demolitions in East Jerusalem and UN reports last year of a 45 percent increase in home demolitions.

“We urge you to press the Israeli government to prevent more families from being forcibly transferred and having their homes destroyed,” said the letter sent Monday.

“As supporters of the US Israel relationship and in light of the longstanding use of US-origin and supplied equipment by Israeli security forces, we specifically request an examination of Israeli compliance with the requirements” under the US Arms Export Control Act, the letter says.

US Rep. Rohit ‘Ro’ Khanna, from California’s 17th Congressional District centered in Santa Clara and other parts of California’s Silicon Valley, in Los Angeles, January 26, 2018. (Reed Saxon/AP)

The Act restricts the recipients of US military equipment to “legitimate self-defense” uses.

It’s not clear whether Israel currently uses US equipment in the home demolitions, which Israeli officials say target illegally built units. In the past, it has used Caterpillar land moving equipment to demolish homes of suspected terrorists and structures used to attack Israeli forces.

“My hope is that Israel will stop the home demolitions and will see that there are many supporters of the US-Israel relationship on this letter,” Khanna told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in an interview.

A number of Jewish Democrats signed the letter. In addition to Cohen, they include Reps. Jan Schakowsky of Illinois, Jamie Raskin of Maryland, Alan Lowenthal of California, John Yarmuth of Kentucky, and Andy Levin of Michigan.

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