update deskU.S.-Israel Relations

Biden admin reportedly halted arms shipment to Israel

An Israeli official downplayed the report, saying that "the flow continues" and Jerusalem was "not aware of a policy decision to stop it."

U.S. President Joe Biden in Tel Aviv on Oct. 18, 2023. Photo by Miriam Alster/Flash90.
U.S. President Joe Biden in Tel Aviv on Oct. 18, 2023. Photo by Miriam Alster/Flash90.

The Biden administration has halted a shipment of U.S.-made ammunition to Israel, Axios reported on Sunday, citing two officials in Jerusalem.

According to the U.S. news outlet, last week’s decision to place the shipment on hold left the Israeli government concerned, as it is the first time since Hamas’s Oct. 7 massacre that the U.S. has halted military aid to the Israel Defense Forces.

The White House reportedly declined to comment, while the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. State Department and the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office didn’t immediately respond to questions from Axios.

An unnamed Israeli official downplayed the report, telling the Israeli news website Ynet that “the flow continues” and Jerusalem was “not aware of a policy decision to stop it.”

“Even now, a continued series of defense shipments are being sent from the U.S. to Israel,” the official stated, while acknowledging that “one shipment or another may be delayed.”

In March, a senior Israeli official told ABC News that Washington had begun slow-walking military aid. According to the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, shipments at the beginning of the war were coming “very fast,” but Jerusalem is “now finding that it’s very slow.”

The official said he was not sure what the cause was, but that Jerusalem was aware of President Joe Biden’s frustration with the conflict and his demand that Israel do more to provide humanitarian supplies to Gaza.

The reports of delays in U.S. arms shipments come as the Israel Defense Forces are making final preparations for a ground operation in Rafah, the last Hamas stronghold located in the southern part of the Strip.

Many of the 132 hostages still in the hands of Hamas more than 200 days after the Oct. 7 massacre are believed to be held in Rafah. Israeli special forces rescued two captives from the city earlier this year.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said on Sunday that Jerusalem is seeing “worrying signs” that Hamas has no intention of agreeing to any hostages-for-ceasefire-and-terrorists-release deal and the IDF is edging closer to military action “in Rafah and the entire Strip in the near future.”

During a Cabinet meeting in Jerusalem on Sunday, Gallant said the IDF offensive in Rafah, where the remaining four Hamas terrorist battalions are located, is expected to take place “very soon.”

Biden has repeatedly told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he would not support a major offensive against the terrorist group in Rafah. Instead, the White House favors a limited operation aimed at attacking high-value Hamas targets and securing the Gaza-Egypt border.

Biden would consider limiting “certain arms sales” if Israel launches a major assault in the city, The New York Times reported late last month.

At least 10 people were wounded, one seriously, on Sunday afternoon when Hamas terrorists in Rafah fired 14 rockets and mortars toward Kibbutz Kerem Shalom in southern Israel. Several rockets exploded near an IDF military facility, causing the casualties.

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