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Biden Says US Will Not Provide Weapons To Israel Any More If It Conducts A Major Invasion Of Rafah

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President Biden addressed the growing rift between the US and Israel by publicly warning Tel Aviv for the first time that the US would not supply it weapons should its forces conduct a major invasion of Rafah.

“I made it clear that 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 an interview with CNN.

Biden’s remarks come after Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin had stated on Wednesday that the president had decided to “pause” weapon shipment over concerns over its operation in Rafah.

“We’ve paused one shipment of high-payload munitions,” Austin said in response to questions from Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., during a hearing at the Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee. However, he added that, “We have not made a final determination on how to proceed with that shipment,” signaling that the White House could still approve shipping them in the future.

Biden has been a die-hard supporter of Israel but his words suggest that there is a growing disconnect between Washington and Tel Aviv. A senior US official said Washington had carefully reviewed the delivery of weapons that might be used in Rafah and as a result, “paused” the shipment of 1,800 2,000-pound (907-kg) bombs and 1,700 500-pound bombs.

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Biden acknowledged U.S. weapons have been used by Israel to kill civilians in Gaza, where Israel has mounted a seven-month-old offensive aimed at annihilating Hamas. Israel’s campaign has so far killed 34,789 Palestinians, mostly civilians, the Gaza Health Ministry said.

“Civilians have been killed in Gaza as a consequence of those bombs and other ways in which they go after population centers,” he said when asked about 2,000-pound bombs sent to Israel. However, he added in the CNN interview that Israel had not crossed his “red line” regarding its conduct in Gaza.

According to the Jerusalem Post the US State Department will be publishing a report as to whether it considers Israel is violating international law regarding its war in Gaza. US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said that there had been a “brief delay” and added the report would be “out in a few days.”

(Reuters and other agencies)