Boeing Co

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The world's third-largest military company. It manufactures multiple weapon systems that are routinely used in war crimes against Palestinian civilians and previously designed the smart/virtual wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

The Boeing Company, headquartered in Arlington, Virginia, designs, manufactures, and sells military weapons, including attack helicopters, combat aircraft, missiles, bombs, battlefield laser systems, and intelligence and surveillance systems. It also manufactures aircraft for the commercial market. As of 2022, it is the world's third-largest military company, with $35 billion in annual revenue, 56% of which derives from its defense sector.

Boeing has long supplied the U.S. and international militaries with aircraft, weapon systems, and related logistics and maintenance services. Between 2008 and 2021, it signed contracts worth over $289 billion with the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD). It was also one of the top contracts of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in the agency's efforts to erect a "smart/virtual" wall on the U.S.-Mexico border between 2005 and 2019 (see below for more details).

War Crimes Against Palestinian Civilians

Boeing supplies the Israeli military with a wide variety of weapons, including fighter jets, attack helicopters, missiles, bombs, and precision-guided bomb kits. Boeing manufactures the F-15 fighter aircraft, which is one of the main warplanes used by the Israeli Air Force, as well as the V-22 Osprey tiltrotor military aircraft, Chinook helicopters, and the KC-46 Pegasus military refueling and transport aircraft. These weapons are often gifted to Israel through the U.S. government's Foreign Military Financing program.

For years, these weapons have repeatedly been used against Palestinian civilians, resulting in numerous casualties as well as mass destruction of homes and civilian infrastructure, including hospitals, schools, and water and electric systems. These attacks include war crimes that Israel has committed during several major military offensives against the Gaza Strip, which has been illegally blockaded since 2007:

  • 2022 ("Operation Breaking Dawn"): Within three days of an unprovoked offensive, Israel killed at least 33 Palestinians, including 17 civilians. Evidence of war crimes was recorded by Amnesty International.
  • 2021 ("Operation Guardian of the Walls"): During this assault, Israel killed at least 261 Palestinians, including 67 children and 41 women. At least half of the fatalities were civilians, and more than 2,200 additional Palestinians were injured. Evidence of war crimes and possible crimes against humanity was published by Palestinian human rights organizations Al-Haq, Al Mezan, and the Palestinian Center for Human Rights; Amnesty International; and Human Rights Watch.
  • 2014 ("Operation Protective Edge"): During this 50-day assault, Israel killed at least 2,131 Palestinians, at least 1,473 of whom were civilians, including 501 children and 257 women. At least 11,100 Palestinians were wounded, including 3,374 children. Evidence of war crimes was published by Palestinian human rights organizations Al-Haq and Al-Mezan; Israeli organization B'Tselem; Amnesty International; and Human Rights Watch.
  • 2008–2009 ("Operation Cast Lead"): During this 22-day assault, Israel killed at least 1,385 Palestinians, including at least 308 children, and wounded at least 5,000 more. The majority of casualties were civilians. Evidence of war crimes was published by the U.N.'s Fact-Finding Mission, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch.

Bombs and Missiles

The Israeli military routinely uses Boeing GBU-39 and GBU-31 Small Diameter Bombs (SDBs) equipped with Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) kits in its assaults on Gaza. Boeing's JDAM kits convert unguided air-to-ground bombs into so-called guided "smart" bombs. Despite this increased precision, their usage resulted in the killing of numerous civilians, prompting human rights organizations to conclude that at least some of these civilians were deliberately targeted.

GBU-39s were used, for example, to destroy residential buildings and target civilians in 2021, in attacks that Human Rights Watch identified as apparent war crimes. These bombs were used to destroy a three-story residential building in the Al-Shati refugee camp, resulting in the deaths of ten civilians, including four children. Additionally, GBU-31 bombs equipped with JDAM kits were used to strike al-Wahda Street in Gaza City, resulting in the deaths of 44 civilians.

JDAM-equipped bombs were similarly used to target Palestinian civilians and civilian buildings during Israeli military assaults on Gaza in 2019 and 2014. In 2019, a JDAM-guided bomb deployed by the Israeli Air Force killed eight people, including five children. In 2014, one-ton JDAM-equipped bombs were used to target inhabited multistory family homes and civilian infrastructure.

Some Boeing bombs used by the Israeli military in its attacks on Gaza in 2008-2009 may have contained Dense Inert Metal Explosives, which contain explosives mixed with a powdered, high-density metal, such as tungsten, to increase blast impulse and lethality. 

Despite being implicated in persistent human rights violations in Gaza, these Boeing weapons are routinely provided to the Israeli military by the U.S. Between 2010 and 2021, the U.S. supplied the Israeli government with at least 8,550 Boeing GBU-39 SDBs. The two largest deals, for 3,450 and 4,100 bombs, were signed in the wake of Israel's large-scale 2014 and 2012 attacks on Gaza, respectively. Between 2000 and 2021, the U.S. provided Israel with at least 18,379 JDAM kits.

In addition, Boeing's anti-ship Harpoon missile systems are installed on the Israeli Navy's Sa'ar 4.5 missile ships, which are used to enforce Israel's illegal naval blockade of the Gaza Strip. Gazan fishermen, who are restricted by Israel to severely limited fishing areas, have reported being fired at by the Israeli Navy on an almost-daily basis. In 2017, the U.S. gave Israel an unspecified number of Boeing Harpoon missiles worth $251,591.

Apache Helicopters and Hellfire Missiles

Boeing AH-64 Apache attack helicopters, equipped with Boeing Hellfire air-to-ground missiles, are routinely used by the Israeli military in assaults on Palestinian civilians and civilian infrastructure. These weapons were used extensively in all of Israel's major assaults on Gaza, including in 2022, 2021, 2014, 2012, and 2008–2009.

During Israel's 2014 attack on Gaza, for example, Hellfire missiles killed at least 51 people, including 24 children, and injured at least 66 others, including 36 children, in incidents that the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights identified as "a direct attack against civilian objects or civilians, a war crime under international criminal law." The assault drew widespread condemnation and, later in 2014, the U.S. government halted the transfer of Hellfire missiles and other weapons to Israel. Transfers were subsequently resumed a month later.

Additionally, during the 2006 Lebanon War, Israeli Apache helicopters killed at least 30 civilians and wounded nine more in incidents that Human Rights Watch labeled as "indiscriminate targeting by Israeli forces" and potential war crimes. The Israeli military used Apache helicopters to fire Hellfire missiles at, for example, homes inhabited by civilians, a family actively fleeing an area under attack, and a group of people sitting outside of a family home.

Between 2001 and 2021, the U.S. transferred at least 21 Boeing Apache helicopters to the Israeli military. In 2020, Boeing was awarded a Foreign Military Sales contract for logistical, program, engineering, and technical support services related to the Israeli Air Force's fleet of Apache helicopters.

Past Surveillance of the US-Mexico Border

In 2005, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) launched the Secure Border Initiative Network (SBInet), aimed at creating a "virtual fence" along the U.S.-Mexico border in Arizona. In 2006, CBP chose Boeing as the main contractor for the project, under which it would design and deploy a system of cameras, sensors, and radars to "monitor border activity" and feed information back to a Border Patrol command center. As part of the project, Boeing was also awarded several long-term contracts for construction, logistics, and support.

In 2011, after spending nearly $1 billion and deploying SBInet systems along 53 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border in Arizona, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced the cancellation of any future procurements, citing concerns regarding performance, cost, and schedule. Even with this contract cancellation, Boeing ended up being one of the largest CBP contractors of that decade.

Additionally, most aerial deportations of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement ("ICE Air") are conducted using Boeing aircraft. ICE uses Boeing 737s for most deportations and Boeing 767 and 777 aircraft for "special high-risk charters," conducted by ICE contractor Omni Air.

Other Controversies

Boeing is one of the main companies that manufactures and maintains the U.S.'s arsenal of nuclear weapons. In 2021, the company was awarded a $1.6 billion contract through 2039 for guidance repair of 400 Minuteman III Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles.

Similar to their use in attacks on Gaza (see above), Boeing weapons have also been used extensively in apparent war crimes against civilians in the Yemen Civil War since 2014. Boeing has supplied the Saudi Arabia/United Arab Emirates–led coalition with F-15 fighter jets, Apache and Chinook helicopters, and other weapon systems. The company has significantly deepened its activities in Saudi Arabia in collaboration with its government since the beginning of the war in Yemen. In 2020, Boeing was awarded a five-year, $9.8 billion contract for the modernization of the Saudi Air Force's F-15 fleet.

Boeing GBU-39 bombs, JDAM kits, and Harpoon and Standoff Land-Attack missiles are also used by the Saudi Arabia/United Arab Emirates–led coalition in its attacks on Yemen. Between 2017 and 2020, the U.S. supplied Saudi Arabia with at least 1,000 GBU-39 SDBs, 4,145 JDAM kits, and 802 Harpoon Block II missiles. In 2020 alone, the U.S. Navy awarded Boeing two contracts totaling $3.1 billion to supply Saudi Arabia and six other countries with Harpoon and Standoff Land-Attack Missile-Expanded Response (SLAM-ER) cruise missile systems. The contracts included the delivery of 1,052 missiles and related support equipment to Saudi Arabia.

In 2022, Boeing paid $200 million to settle claims that it had deceived its shareholders about problems with its 737 Max commercial plane. In 2018 and 2019, two Boeing 737s crashed, killing a total of 346 people. Following the first crash, Boeing misled investors by suggesting that human error, rather than the plane's flight control system, was at fault. Following the second crash, the company similarly made misleading statements about the safety of the planes.

Economic Activism Highlights


  • In February 2021, the University of California Irvine student government passed a resolution calling on the University of California to divest from companies complicit in Israeli apartheid. The companies named on the resolution included Lockheed Martin, Boeing, General Electric, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, Caterpillar, Ford, Hyundai, Cemex, Raytheon, 3M, Northrop Grumman, Perrigo Company, Atlas Copco, and Blackrock.

  • In December 2019, the Brown University Advisory Committee on Corporate Responsibility in Investment Practices passed a recommendation that the University divest from companies facilitating human rights abuses in Palestine including Boeing Co.

  • On March 3, 2019 the Swarthmore Student Government Organization passed a resolution calling on "Swarthmore College and its Board of Managers to implement a screen on investments in companies involved in repeated, well-documented, and severe violations of international human rights law in Israel / Palestine, including... Boeing Co." 
  • On April 18, 2018, Barnard College Student Government Association passed a referendum calling for the university to divest from eight companies profiting from Israel's occupation of Palestine. The companies listed include Hyundai, Caterpillar, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Elbit Systems, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and Bank Hapoalim.
  • On November 15, 2017, the University of Michigan's central student government passed a resolution for the University to divest from corporations that are involved in the human rights violations against the Palestinian people, including Boeing, G4S, Hewlett-Packard, and United Technologies.
  • On April 26, 2017, University of Wisconsin-Madison students passed a resolution to call for the university's divestment from private prisons and corporations that build border walls, naming Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman, Honeywell, L-3 Communications, Boeing, Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, BNP Paribas, Suntrust, US Bank Corp., and Wells Fargo.
  • On April 12, 2016, the College Council of the University of Chicago passed a resolution to Divest University funds from apartheid, urging the university “ to withdraw, within the bounds of their fiduciary duty, investments in securities, endowments, mutual funds, and other monetary instruments with holdings in companies profiting from human rights abuses and violations of international law in Palestine, including, Boeing."
  • The Undergraduate Student Government Assembly at University of Illinois-Chicago unanimously voted on Februrary 16, 2016, to pass a resolution to divest from corporations profitting off the Israeli occupation and other human rights violations, including Boeing.
  • On January 19, 2016, a landslide vote by the University of South Florida student senate passed a joint resolution to divest from corporations who profit from "illegal and brutal occupation" in Palestine, including Boeing. The resolution was later vetoed by the student government president.
  • Northwestern University students voted to divest from Boeing in February 2015, citing its provision of fighter jets to the Israeli Air Force.
  • In February 2015 the University of California Student Association, the official governing assembly of all University of California students, passed a resolution calling for the university to divest from companies “that violate Palestinian human rights,” specifically mentioning Boeing.
  • Students at UC Los Angeles passed a resolution to divest from Boeing in November 2014, stating Boeing “ha[s] provided weapons used in attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure.”
  • A 2014 referendum passed by students at DePaul University decreed that Boeing “profit[s] from Israel's violation of the human rights of Palestinians and minorities within Israel.”
  • Students at UC San Diego passed a divestment resolution in March 2013, citing Boeing’s involvement in “Israel’s military occupation and violence against Palestinians in violation of international law and human rights.”
  • In November 2012, the Brown University Advisory Committee on Corporate Responsibility in Investment Policies recommended that Brown divest from Boeing and other companies which are "profiting from the illegal occupation of Palestinian territories."
  • Undergraduate students at Arizona State University, in June 2012, voted to divest from and blacklist Boeing due to its “complicit[y] in human rights abuses in the occupied Palestinian Territories.”
  • The University of Massachusetts at Boston’s student government passed a divestment resolution in 2012 stating that Boeing “manufactured and sold weapons...been used in direct attacks on Palestinian civilians.”
  • The student government at the University of Michigan at Dearborn passed a divestment resolution in 2010 due to Boeing’s “[sale of] weapons, goods, and services to Israel.”
  • In 2005 and 2006, the University of Michigan at Dearborn passed resolutions urging divestment from Boeing, citing the company’s “support and benefit from the ongoing illegal Israeli occupation.”
Unless specified otherwise, the information in this page is valid as of
17 November 2022