newsIsrael at War

Biden admin unfreezes 500-pound bomb shipment to Israel

But the dispatch of 2,000-pound bombs remains under review.

Israeli Air Forces strikes in Khan Younis as seen from Rafah in the southernmost Gaza Strip, May 6, 2024. Photo by Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90.
Israeli Air Forces strikes in Khan Younis as seen from Rafah in the southernmost Gaza Strip, May 6, 2024. Photo by Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90.

The Biden administration will unfreeze a shipment of 500-pound bombs to Israel at the heart of a public dispute between Washington and Jerusalem.

The bombs “are in the process of being shipped” and should arrive in the Jewish state in coming weeks, The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.

The 2,000-pound bombs meant to be part of the same shipment remain embargoed, a U.S. official told the Journal. The original shipment was to have included 1,800 of the heavier bombs and 1,700 of the 500 pound-bombs.

A congressional official told the Journal that U.S. lawmakers had not been notified about the decision to release the shipment of the latter.

In May, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Israel Security Assistance Support Act intended to force the delivery of the paused arms.

“This is an insufficient half-measure,” Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Calif.) tweeted in response to the Journal report.

“The Biden Admin must stop delaying military assistance to Israel. The Senate should take up my House-passed bill, the Israel Security Assistance Support Act, to require delivery of ALL defense articles to Israel so they can destroy Hamas.”

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said last week that the Biden administration has held up transfers of seven weapon systems to the Jewish state.

“This is what is most disturbing to me—is that we’re withholding weapon systems that I have signed off on and Congress has appropriated with the intent of sending those weapons to Israel,” McCaul said. “Remember the supplemental? They were effectively withholding seven weapon systems.

“I can’t get into the details,” the congressman added. “That is not helping Israel.”

In June, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that there had been a steep drop in American weapons shipments to the Israel Defense Forces, days after accusing Washington of withholding military aid.

“Around four months ago, there was a dramatic decrease in the supply of armaments arriving from the U.S. to Israel,” the premier explained.

“For many weeks, we appealed to our American friends to speed up the shipments. We did this time and time again. We did this at the highest levels, and on all levels, and I want to emphasize: We did this behind closed doors,” said Netanyahu.

While Jerusalem received “all kinds of explanations,” the U.S. failed to fast-track the expected military aid, charged the prime minister. “Specific items trickled in, but the bulk of armaments were left behind.”

Inconceivable

The comments came after Netanyahu told visiting Secretary of State Antony Blinken that it was “inconceivable” for the administration to withhold weapons and ammunition during the war against Hamas in Gaza.

“When Secretary Blinken was recently here in Israel, we had a candid conversation. I said I deeply appreciated the support the U.S. has given Israel from the beginning of the war. But I also said something else. I said it’s inconceivable that in the past few months, the administration has been withholding weapons and ammunitions to Israel,” the premier revealed in a video message.

“Israel, America’s closest ally, [is] fighting for its life, fighting against Iran and our other common enemies,” Netanyahu continued. “Secretary Blinken assured me that the administration is working day and night to remove these bottlenecks. I certainly hope that’s the case. It should be the case.”

Asked about Netanyahu’s remarks, Blinken said that a single shipment of 2,000-pound bombs was under review, but claimed that all other deliveries were moving forward.

“We continue to move these different cases through our system on regular order. We have one case that the president has talked about publicly about the 2,000-pound bombs and about the concerns that we have about them being used in densely populated areas. That remains. We continue to work through that. But there’s been no change in our posture, which, our posture is, again, to make sure Israel has what it needs to defend itself across these many threats,” said Blinken.

In May, administration officials confirmed a decision to withhold the delivery of thousands of bombs to Israel amid U.S. concerns that the IDF would use them in the Hamas stronghold of Rafah.

The announcement came as President Joe Biden said that he would be halting the shipment of offensive weapons if Jerusalem went ahead with its counterterrorism operation in Gaza’s southernmost city.

“If they go into Rafah, I’m not supplying the weapons that have been used historically to deal with Rafah, to deal with the cities—that deal with that problem,” Biden said in the interview.

A day later, Netanyahu vowed that the Jewish state would vanquish Hamas with its fingernails, if necessary.

“If we need to stand alone, we will stand alone,” he stated. “But we have much more than fingernails, and with that same strength of spirit, with God’s help, together we will win.”

Netanyahu reportedly told Blinken during their meeting last month that while Israel would continue to fight without U.S. support, the arms embargo gave Iranian-backed Hamas and Hezbollah a strategic edge, raising the chances of a prolonged war on multiple fronts in the Middle East.

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