Larry Hebert in front of the White House on Easter Sunday. [Source: Courtesy of Veterans For Peace]

Demands End to U.S. Arms Sales to Israel and an Immediate Cease-Fire

On Easter Sunday, March 31, 2024, active-duty Air Force Senior Airman Larry Hebert began a hunger strike in front of the White House to highlight the plight of the starving children of Gaza.

Hebert’s act of protest was set amidst the backdrop of the annual White House Easter Egg Roll.

His intent was to remind parents and their children that, while they are playing with Easter eggs on the White House lawn, children all over Gaza need eggs to stave off starvation as a result of U.S.-Israel policies.

Hebert continued his protest at the White House the week after Easter and has decided to camp outside the U.S. Congress beginning on April 8 when Congress goes back into session.

In mid-March, Hebert, age 26, from Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and a member of Veterans For Peace, took authorized leave from his assignment at Naval Station Rota, Spain, to participate in demonstrations demanding a permanent cease-fire in Gaza and to visit congressional offices to press for halting weapons shipments to Israel that violate several U.S. laws.

Hebert said: “I was deeply touched when I saw that Aaron Bushnell took his own life at the Israeli Embassy for the people of Gaza and knew that I had to raise my voice in opposition to the U.S. government supplying Israel the bombs and rockets to commit genocide in Gaza. Active-duty members are afraid to speak out and I hope that my example and that of others, like Aaron, can change that.”

A person standing on fire

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Aaron Bushnell [Source:]

With six years in the Air Force (he enlisted in 2018), Hebert joins hundreds of current and retired military and government officials urging U.S. leaders to stop fueling Israel’s war that has killed over 32,000 Palestinians, around 13,000 of whom are children, and displaced an estimated 1.7 million. Starvation and disease are rapidly becoming as deadly as the war itself in the area Israel has bombed to rubble.

Bombed out rubble in Gaza. [Source:]

In an exclusive interview with CovertAciton Magazine, Hebert said that, like many others, he viewed the military as a job that would help him secure his financial future, and that he was not very political.

However, when the war on Gaza began after October 7, he could not live with what he was doing and became “a mess.” The tipping point, he said, was a video he saw on social media of a child in Gaza crying, followed by more and more heart-wrenching videos and images of violence and suffering.

At that point, Hebert said that he began reading into the history of the Israel-Palestine conflict and observed a stark contrast between the critical analysis of former President Jimmy Carter compared to the rhetoric coming from the Biden White House.

Hebert said that “watching the news and hearing Israeli officials like Itamar Ben-Gvir, calling for nuking Gaza, and Yoav Gallant, referring to Palestinians as ‘human animals,’ make it clear who the aggressor is and who is wrong in this conflict.”

Hebert said that his awakening about U.S. support for Israeli aggression led him to question the U.S. role in the Middle East and around the world.

When Aaron Bushnell immolated himself to protest the war, Hebert said he was infuriated that the U.S. military and government did not acknowledge his death or offer condolences to his family, which Hamas did. “The silence after the death of one of their own showed a complete lack of regard or care for America’s own soldiers,” according to Hebert.

Hebert said that, right now, he does not intend to return to active duty unless there is a change in U.S. government policy, and the war in Gaza is ended and a major humanitarian mission is undertaken. Hebert cannot in good conscience continue to work for the U.S. Air Force in Spain, where his job was to help aircraft land that were flying in with weapons cargo that was then being shipped off to Israel.

With one year of active duty left, Hebert plans to apply for reassignment to the U.S. or, alternatively, for conscientious objector status.

He is unsure of his career plans after his discharge from the military, saying that even though he is trained as an avionics specialist and is qualified to work in the civilian aircraft industry, he will not work for Boeing or BAE Systems or any aerospace company that profits from war.

On Easter Sunday, Hebert said that he received an overwhelmingly positive reception outside the White House, and that there were only “one or two negative comments directed toward him.”

This shows a major shift in public opinion on the Israel-Palestine conflict and the disapproval of the U.S. government’s policies.

U.S. Ships More Bombs and Bombers to Israel

Hebert’s protest was being carried out as the U.S. was continuing to supply weapons to Israel that were being used to pulverize Gaza.

The Washington Post reported on March 29 that the Biden administration had quietly authorized the transfer of billions of dollars in bombs and fighter jets to Israel despite professed concerns about an anticipated military offensive in Rafah, where up to 1.5 million Palestinians were crammed.

The new arms packages include more than 1,800 MK84 2,000-pound “bunker buster” bombs and 500 MK 82 500-pound bombs, according to Pentagon and State Department officials, and F-35 fighter jets. The 2,000-pound bombs have been linked to previous mass-casualty events throughout Israel’s military campaign in Gaza.

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Bunker buster bombs being supplied to the Israeli front. [Source:]
Bernie Sanders smiling
Bernie Sanders [Source:]

Bernie Sanders (D-VT) was among the politicians calling out the hypocrisy, stating that “the U.S. cannot beg Netanyahu to stop bombing civilians one day and the next send him thousands more 2,000-pound bombs that can level entire city blocks. This is obscene. We must end our complicity: No more bombs to Israel.”

Violations of U.S. Law

In response to Hebert’s protest, Veterans For Peace released a summary of the laws currently being violated by the U.S. State Department and other officials every time weapons shipments to Israel are authorized.  This summary below is included in a letter Veterans For Peace sent to the State Department’s Inspector General on February 12.

  • The Foreign Assistance Act: forbids the provision of assistance to a government which “engages in a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights.”
  • The Arms Export Control Act: countries that receive U.S. military aid may only use weapons for legitimate reasons of self-defense and internal security. Israel’s genocidal campaign in Gaza goes way beyond self-defense and internal security.
  • The U.S. War Crimes Act: forbids grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions, including willful killing, torture or inhuman treatment, willfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health, and unlawful deportation or transfer, perpetrated by the Israeli Occupying Forces.
  • The Leahy Laws: prohibit the U.S. Government from using funds for assistance to units of foreign security forces where there is credible information implicating that unit in the commission of gross violations of human rights. 
  • The Genocide Convention Implementation Act: enforces U.S. obligations under the Genocide Convention and provides for criminal penalties for individuals who commit or incite others to commit genocide. 

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