US advances $1bn Israel weapons package amid Rafah tensions

The US state department has moved a $1bn package of weapons aid for Israel into the congressional review process, two US officials said on Tuesday.

The latest weapons package includes tank rounds, mortars and armored tactical vehicles, one of the officials told Reuters.

President Joe Biden said last week he had delayed a shipment of 2,000lb (907kg) bombs and 1,700 500lb bombs to Israel over concerns they might be used for a major invasion of Rafah, a town in southern Gaza.

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters on Monday that the US would continue to provide the military assistance provided in a $26bn supplemental funding bill passed last month, but the White House paused the bombs because “we do not believe they should be dropped in densely populated cities”.

The chairmen and ranking members of the Senate foreign relations and the House foreign affairs committees review major foreign weapons deals.

Biden has urged Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu not to invade Rafah without safeguards for civilians, seven months into a war that has devastated Gaza.

Biden’s support for Israel in its war against Hamas has emerged as a political liability for the president, particularly among young Democrats, as he runs for re-election this year.

The Guardian

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