US plans to send $1 billion arms shipment to Israel despite Rafah concerns

An IDF tank amid Israel's war in Gaza. Credit: AP

Words by ITV News Producer Georgia Ziebart

The US plans to send more than $1 billion (£800m) in additional arms and ammunition to Israel.

The shipment will be the first to Israel since the White House put another arms transfer, consisting of 3,500 bombs, on hold this month.

The Biden administration paused the shipment over concerns civilians would be killed amid fears of a full-scale Israeli invasion on the southern Gazan city of Rafah.

Last week, a State Department report found that Israeli forces likely used US-supplied weapons in a manner "inconsistent" with international law. But it stopped short of identifying violations that would put an end to military aid.

The potential shipment would include about $700 million for tank ammunition, $500 million in tactical vehicles, and $60 million in mortar rounds.

The information was anonymously disclosed to US media by three congressional aides.

The package must still be approved by lawmakers, and it is not immediately known how soon the shipment would be sent.

Weapons transfers to the Israel have become something of a sticking point for the Biden administration in recent months.

The President has come under criticism from both sides of the political spectrum over its military support for Israel's conflict against Hamas in Gaza - at a time when Biden is battling for reelection against former President Donald Trump.

Some of Biden's fellow Democrats have pushed him to limit transfers of weapons to Israel, in order to pressure them to do more to protect Palestinian civilians. Widespread protests across US college campuses have reinforced that message.

President Biden paused an arms shipment to Israel earlier this month, due to concerns of civilian casualties in Rafah, Gaza Credit: AP

Speaking to CNN about the delayed shipment, Biden explained it was because "civilians have been killed in Gaza as a consequence of those bombs."

But his administration officials have made clear that they will continue other weapons deliveries and military support to their ally, which is the largest recipient of US military aid.

Biden will see to it that "Israel has all of the military means it needs to defend itself against Hamas," national security spokesman John Kirby told reporters on Monday, "He's going to provide Israel with all of the capabilities it needs, but he does not want certain categories of American weapons used in a particular type of operation in a particular place."

On Wednesday, Israeli military said that it had intensified its operations in Gaza's Jabaliya refugee camp, as well as carrying out what it described as "targeted operations" in some areas of Rafah.

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