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US approves additional bombs, warplanes sales to Israel

March 31, 2024 10:46 AM IST

Israel | Gaza | Biden Administration

The Biden administration has quietly sanctioned the transfer of billions of dollars of bombs and fighter jets to Israel, signalling its unwavering support for Israel’s defence strategies.

The recent authorizations include a substantial arsenal of munitions, comprising over 1,800 MK84 2,000-pound bombs and 500 MK82 500-pound bombs, as confirmed by Pentagon and State Department officials familiar with the matter. The decision to greenlight such significant weaponry raises eyebrows, particularly given the lethal history of the 2,000-pound bombs in previous Israeli military campaigns in Gaza, which have resulted in mass casualties.

While the Biden administration has expressed concerns about the potential ramifications of an Israeli offensive in southern Gaza, it has refrained from conditioning aid or imposing restrictions on arms transfers. A White House official reiterated the administration’s stance, affirming its continued support for Israel’s right to self-defence and emphasising that conditioning aid has not been part of its policy.

However, some Democratic voices, including allies of President Biden, argue for a more nuanced approach, insisting on Israeli commitments to minimise civilian casualties and facilitate humanitarian aid into Gaza.

The impasse highlights the delicate balance in US-Israel relations, with disagreements emerging over the conduct of the conflict. While the Biden administration seeks to engage with Israeli authorities to mitigate the bloodshed, tensions have flared over the refusal to veto a United Nations Security Council resolution calling for a temporary ceasefire, which Israel perceived as undermining its position.

Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant’s recent visit to Washington underscored Israel’s urgent requests for expedited weaponry, with Gen Charles Q Brown Jr, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, acknowledging Israel’s persistent demands for critical military supplies. However, the US has exercised discretion in fulfilling these requests, citing capacity limits and strategic considerations.

The decision to proceed with arms transfers has drawn criticism from some quarters. Critics argue that the indiscriminate use of powerful munitions, such as the MK84 bombs, poses significant risks to civilian populations and may constitute violations of international law.

The Biden administration’s approach has also sparked internal debate, with advocates defending the need to maintain support for Israel’s security while acknowledging the humanitarian imperative of minimising civilian harm. Efforts to engage with Israeli officials behind the scenes have yielded mixed results, with delays in planned military operations in Gaza attributed partly to ongoing discussions.

Despite the diplomatic tensions, the Biden administration remains committed to facilitating humanitarian assistance to alleviate the dire conditions in Gaza. However, logistical challenges and Israeli restrictions on aid deliveries have hindered efforts to address the humanitarian crisis effectively.

(Inputs from ANI)

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Last updated on: 17th April 2024