Who are Israel’s main weapons suppliers and who has halted exports?

By Thomson Reuters May 9, 2024 | 9:48 AM

(Corrects date in 7th paragraph to 2023)

(Reuters) -The United States has suspended a shipment of weapons to Israel, including heavy, bunker-busting bombs Israeli forces have used in their war against Hamas militants in Gaza that has killed nearly 35,000 Palestinians in seven months.

U.S. President Joe Biden acted in the face of Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to pursue a military assault on the Gazan city of Rafah over Washington’s objections, given large numbers of vulnerable displaced people there.

The U.S. is by far the largest arms supplier to its closest Middle East ally, followed by Germany – whose strong support for Israel reflects in part atonement for the Nazi Holocaust – and Italy.

Two countries, Canada and the Netherlands, have halted arms supplies to Israel over concerns they could be used in ways violating international humanitarian law – causing civilian casualties and destruction of living areas – in Gaza.

Following are some details of Israel’s weapons suppliers.


The suspended arms delivery to Israel consisted of 1,800 2,000-pound (907-kg) bombs and 1,700 500-pound bombs, according to U.S. officials. The decision arose from concerns about the “end-use of the 2,000-pound bombs and the impact they could have in dense urban settings (like Rafah)…,” a U.S. official said.

In 2016 the U.S. and Israel signed a third 10-year Memorandum of Understanding covering the 2018-2028 period providing for $38 billion in military aid, $33 billion in grants to buy military equipment and $5 billion for missile defense systems. Israel received 69% of its military aid from the U.S. in the 2019-2023 period, according to a March factsheet issued by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

Israel is the first international operator of the U.S. F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, considered the most technologically advanced fighter jet ever made. Israel is in the process of buying 75 F-35s and – as of last year – had taken delivery of 36, paying for them with U.S. assistance.

The U.S. has also helped Israel develop and arm its Iron Dome short-range rocket defense system, developed after the 2006 war between Israel and Lebanon-based Hezbollah. The United States has repeatedly sent Israel hundreds of millions of dollars to help replenish its interceptor missiles.

Further, Washington has helped fund the development of Israel’s “David’s Sling” system, designed to shoot down rockets fired from 100 km to 200 km (62 miles to 124 miles) away.


German defense export approvals to Israel rose nearly tenfold to 326.5 million euros ($351 million) in 2023 compared with the previous year, with Berlin treating permit requests as a priority after Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel that triggered the Gaza war.

Germany primarily supplies Israel with components for air defense systems and communications equipment, according to the German press agency dpa, which first reported the figures.

Weapons exported included 3,000 portable anti-tank weapons and 500,000 rounds of ammunition for automatic or semi-automatic firearms. Dpa said that most of the export licences were granted for land vehicles and technology for the development, assembly, maintenance and repair of weapons.

Germany has provided about 30% of Israel’s military aid in 2019-23, according to SIPRI figures.


A Foreign Ministry source confirmed on May 9 that Italy, one of Israel’s three biggest arms suppliers along with the U.S. and Germany, had halted new export approvals since the start of the Gaza war. “Everything stopped. And the last orders were delivered in November,” the source told Reuters.

Under Italian law, arms exports are banned to countries that are waging war and those deemed to be violating international human rights.

In March, Defense Minister Guido Crosetto had said Italy has continued to export arms to Israel but that only previously signed orders were being honoured after checks had been made to ensure the weaponry would not be used against Gaza civilians.

In December alone, Italy sent 1.3 million euros worth of arms to Israel, triple the level of the same month in 2022.

Italy provided about 1% of Israel’s military aid in 2019-23, according to SIPRI’s report, reportedly including helicopters and naval artillery.


Britain is not one of Israel’s bigger suppliers. Unlike the U.S., Britain’s government does not give arms directly to Israel but rather licences companies to sell – often components into U.S. supply chains like F-35 jets.

Last year, Britain granted export licences to sell at least 42 million pounds ($52.5 million) of defense equipment to Israel. The licences were for items including munitions, unmanned air vehicles, small arms ammunition and components for aircraft, helicopters, and assault rifles.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak told parliament on Thursday that Britain ran one of the world’s strictest licencing control regimes in which it periodically reviewed advice on Israel’s commitment to humanitarian law. “With regard to export licences, following the most recent assessment, it is unchanged,” he said.

Some left-wing opposition parties have called on the government to revoke the export licences in the face of Gaza’s soaring death toll and to publish the legal advice used to reach the assessment that arms exports could continue.


Canada’s government said on March 20 that it had stopped licensing arms exports to Israel since Jan. 8, and the freeze would continue until Ottawa could ensure the weapons are used in accordance with humanitarian law. Many of Gaza’s dead from Israeli bombardments and ground offensives have been civilians, according to international rights groups.

Canada had since the Hamas attack on Oct. 7 authorized at least C$28.5 million ($21 million) worth of new permits, more than the value of such permits allowed in the previous year.


The Dutch government halted shipments of parts for F-35 jets to Israel from warehouses in the Netherlands in February, after an appeals court ruling determined that there was a risk the parts were being used for violations of humanitarian law. The government is appealing that ruling.

($1 = 0.7999 pounds)

(Writing by Mark Heinrich; editing by Timothy Heritage)