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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Musk weighs in on Israel’s strike on Iran

US tax dollars were used to help West Jerusalem target Tehran’s American-made F-14 fighter jets, the SpaceX CEO says

Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk took aim at Israel’s recent strikes on an Iranian airbase, suggesting that West Jerusalem used US money to attack American-made jets, which were sold to the Shah during the Cold War era.

On Friday, several media outlets reported that Israel had struck targets across Iran. The airstrike came nearly a week after Tehran launched a series of its own attacks on the Jewish state, using hundreds of drones and missiles. That strike was in response to what Iran says was a deadly Israeli raid on its consulate in Damascus, Syria.

One of Israel’s strikes on Friday targeted Isfahan Airbase, home to an Iranian fleet of US-made F-14 Tomcats, according to the Iranian authorities. The fighter jets, which were discontinued in the US in 2006, were purchased by Iran’s Western-leaning government before the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

The scale of the damage to the airbase is unclear. Iranian media claims that several Israeli drones were destroyed during the attack.

Tehran lost several F-14s during the grueling 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq War, although the 1970s-era warplanes have faced maintenance difficulties due to a lack of spare parts.

Commenting on the strike on Friday, Musk pointed to the irony of the situation, writing, “our tax dollars somehow also blowing up our tax dollars.” In a separate post on X (formerly Twitter), he seemed to express dismay about the current standoff in the Middle East, saying, “we should send rockets not at each other, but rather to the stars.”

Israel, a key American ally in the Middle East, has been one of the leading recipients of military aid from Washington. In 2016, it signed a memorandum of understanding with the US, under which West Jerusalem would receive $38 billion in assistance over the following ten years. The US also helped the Jewish state develop its Iron Dome air defense system, and the country is a member of the F-35 fighter program.

The US Congress has been deliberating for months over a foreign aid package bill which would provide aid to Israel. While the bulk of it ($61 billion) is earmarked for Ukraine, it also includes $26 billion in support for Israel and the provision of humanitarian aid to the Palestinian enclave of Gaza, which has suffered unprecedented devastation during West Jerusalem’s conflict with Hamas.