Home News Biden suspends weapons shipments to Israel amid controversy over Rafah attack

Biden suspends weapons shipments to Israel amid controversy over Rafah attack

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President Joe Biden last week suspended arms shipments to Israel to prevent U.S.-made weapons from being used in a long-threatened attack on the city of Rafah, administration officials said late Tuesday, in a sign of the rift between Washington and Jerusalem over Israel. Expanding day by day. The progress of the war.

Officials said the president had withheld 1,800 2,000-pound bombs and 1,700 500-pound bombs that he feared could be dropped on Rafah, where more than 1 million Gazans have taken refuge. The government is reviewing whether to block future transfers, including the conversion of so-called dumb bombs into guidance kits for precision-guided munitions.

The decision to delay the delivery of 3,500 bombs is the first time since the Oct. 7 Hamas-led terror attacks that Biden has used his power to cut arms to influence Israel’s approach to the war.For weeks, some of Biden’s Democratic allies in Congress have been urging him to Restrict or halt arms shipments to Israelwhich he has refused to do until now due to his strong support for a war against Hamas.

Israeli official reveals arms suspension to Axios earlier this week, but U.S. officials declined to confirm the news at a briefing or privately until Tuesday evening. The fact that they eventually did so was a clear sign of growing frustration among government officials that their Israeli counterparts had ignored warnings that a major U.S. operation in Rafah could result in massive civilian casualties.Just a few hours later, news of the weapons suspension came Israel sends tanks into the city in southern Gaza.

A U.S. official said the administration began reviewing the weapons shipments last month, when it became clear Israel was making a decision on Operation Rafah. Biden’s initial position was that Israel should not attack Rafah without an effective plan to reduce civilian casualties, but in recent weeks the White House has increasingly signaled that it believed such a plan was simply not possible.

Israel has not yet made clear whether an attack on Rafah is imminent, but actions over the past few days appear to suggest it is moving in that direction. After Hamas rockets killed four Israeli soldiers over the weekend, the Israeli army ordered the evacuation of 110,000 civilians from Rafah and launched air strikes on targets in the city’s border areas.

Israel said Tuesday’s tank entry into Rafah and capture of the city’s border crossing with Egypt was a limited operation aimed at eliminating Hamas fighters and infrastructure linked to rocket attacks. These actions do not appear to be the vanguard of larger attacks that Israel has promised.But evacuation orders and limited military operations appear to be aimed at Keep up the pressure on Hamas although Negotiators meet in Cairo Discuss possible ceasefire agreement.

Mr. Biden did not mention his decision to withhold bombs during the election. Remarks at a Holocaust commemoration ceremony earlier Tuesday at the Capitol, but reiterated his support for Israel. “Even when we disagree, my commitment to the security of the Jewish people, the security of Israel and its right to exist as an independent Jewish state is unwavering,” he said.

The government is currently neither halting the supply of all weapons to Israel nor permanently seizing the bombs. In fact, officials said the government had just approved the latest tranche of aid worth $827 million in arms and equipment. Officials said the administration intends to send “every dollar” Congress just appropriated.

But they said they were particularly concerned about the damage a 2,000-pound bomb could cause in a densely populated urban area like Rafah, where large numbers of displaced civilians live.

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