US pauses shipment of bombs to Israel

The United States has paused a bomb shipment for Israel last week. A senior US administration official said that the decision was made over concerns that they would be used in a major ground operation in the southern Gaza city of Rafah. Israel has not “fully addressed” US concerns over the humanitarian needs of civilians in Rafah, he added.

The Israeli military appeared to play down the dispute officially, with a spokesman saying that the two allies would resolve any disagreements “behind closed doors.” But an unnamed Israeli official said there is deep frustration in the Israeli government over the decision. He added that tensions had already been running high after Israel felt the US allowed it to be blindsided by Hamas’ announcement this week that it was accepting a version of a cease-fire proposal.

The delayed arms shipment comes at a time when President Joe Biden faces mounting domestic pressure, both from Democratic lawmakers and the US public, to rein in Israeli operations in Gaza amid rising civilian deaths and a worsening humanitarian situation. Israel appears poised to mount a large-scale invasion of Rafah, a congested part of southern Gaza that is Hamas’ last major stronghold in the territory, despite firm and vocal US opposition. With a massive operation looming in the city where nearly 1.4 million Palestinians are sheltering, a high number of deaths is feared.

The shipment consisted of 1,800 2,000-pound bombs and 1,700 500-pound bombs. The Biden administration has been trying to end the use of the 2,000lb bombs in the offensive in Gaza, due to the impact they have on dense urban areas.

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