Biden moving forward on $1B in weapons for Israel after previous shipment paused over Rafah concerns: report

The Biden administration is reportedly moving forward with a plan to send Israel $1 billion worth of weapons after the White House briefly paused a shipment last week over concerns about Israel’s planned ground invasion of Rafah. 

The weapons package, according to the Wall Street Journal, will include $700 million in tank ammunition, $500 million in tactical vehicles and $60 million in mortar rounds. 

There was no immediate indication when the arms would be sent. 

When reached by Fox News, the State Department stressed that the weapons package is not new aid being provided to Israel. 

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National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said Monday that the U.S. had paused a shipment of 2,000-pound bombs because “we do not believe they should be dropped in densely populated areas.”

Israel has portrayed Rafah as the last stronghold of Hamas, brushing off warnings from the United States and other allies that any major operation there would be catastrophic for civilians.

White House national security communications advisor John Kirby said last week that the U.S. had proposed to Israel, “alternative methods of defeating Hamas that do not involve a major group operation in Rafah.” 

Kirby reaffirmed the Biden administration’s commitment to Israel, noting that the president said “he will continue to ensure that Israel has all of the military means it needs to defend itself against all of its enemies, including Hamas.”

“For [President Biden], this is very straightforward: He’s going to continue to provide Israel with all capabilities it needs, but he does not want certain categories of American weapons used in a particular type of operation in a particular place. And again, he has been clear and consistent with that,” Kirby said. 

House Republicans were planning this week to advance a bill to mandate the delivery of offensive weaponry for Israel. Following Biden’s move to put a pause on bomb shipments, Republicans have likened the move to abandoning the U.S.’ closest ally in the Middle East.

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The White House said Tuesday that Biden would veto the bill if it were to pass Congress. The bill also has practically no chance in the Democratic-controlled Senate. But House Democrats are somewhat divided on the issue, and roughly two dozen have signed onto a letter to the Biden administration saying they were “deeply concerned about the message” sent by pausing the bomb shipment.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.