UBC Undergraduate Research

The Ties that Bind: The Causes and Ramifications of the 1962 Sale of Hawk Anti-Aircraft Missiles to Israel McIntosh, Sarah Alexandra


In August of 1962, American President John Fitzgerald Kennedy made the decision to sell Hawk anti-aircraft missiles to Israel, ending the U.S. arms embargo. Kennedy’s decision was motivated by three key factors. First and foremost, Kennedy chose to sell Hawk missiles to Israel in exchange for Israeli concessions regarding the Negev Nuclear Research Center at Dimona. Second, the missiles were provided to the Jewish State as compensation for Kennedy’s relationship with Egyptian president Nasser, including the agreement to provide Egypt with PL- 480 aid. Finally, the United States chose to sell Hawks to Israel in an attempt to resettle Palestinian refugees in the aftermath of the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. In addition to ending the long-standing arms embargo to Israel, the sale of Hawk anti-aircraft missiles also had considerable ramifications, including opening the floodgates for further arms sales to Israel and contributing significantly to the arms spiral in the wider Middle East. Ultimately, JFK’s decision to end the arms embargo to Israel in 1962 not only contributed to the Near East arms spiral, but also laid the foundation for the American-Israeli relationship that continues to this day.

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