Palestinian militants are reportedly using U.S. weapons left behind by President Joe Biden’s botched Afghanistan withdrawal to attack Israel.
According to a high-ranking Israel Defense Forces (IDF) commander, U.S. weapons left in Afghanistan after Biden’s disastrous withdrawal have ended up in the hands of Palestinian groups active in the Gaza Strip.
The IDF commander told Newsweek that:
“A high-ranking Israel Defense Forces (IDF) commander has told Newsweek that Israel is concerned over the risks of weapons provided by the United States and other Western nations to Ukraine ending up in the hands of Israel’s foes in the Middle East, including Iran. With experts too backing these worries, the situation could mark yet another chapter in a long legacy of U.S. arms shipments being diverted, empowering adversaries of both Israel and the U.S. in another restive region, while the focus of Western governments is on the volatile conflict playing out in Eastern Europe.”
The Israeli commander said that paramilitary forces operating on both sides of the Russia-Ukraine war monitored the diversion of weapons. The weapons are a source of income for Taliban commanders, who sold and smuggled them out of Afghanistan. The IDF commander claimed U.S. small arms were spotted among Palestinian groups.
The commander said knowing the amount of diversion is challenging because of the IDF’s focus on monitoring events primarily in the Middle East. He argued that the situation was “very dangerous” due to two concerns for Israel.
“One is that they can research capabilities and then learn how to manufacture them. I’m talking especially about Iran,” the Israeli commander told Newsweek. “The other problem is that we are very worried that some of these capabilities are going to fall to Hezbollah and Hamas’ hands.”
A Pentagon report indicated that $7 billion worth of military equipment granted to the previous Afghan government fell into Taliban hands after Biden’s botched withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021. In a statement to the outlet, a U.S. State Department spokesperson downplayed the risk of the diversion of weapons supplied by the Pentagon. However, they acknowledged that while they send weapons to Ukraine, “there is a risk these weapons could be captured if territory changes hands, as can happen in any war.”