US to resume shipments of 500lb bombs to Israel

by Pelican Press
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US to resume shipments of 500lb bombs to Israel

The United States will resume shipments of 500lb bombs to Israel, a US official has told the BBC.

A joint shipment of 2,000lb and 500lb bombs had been paused since May because of White House concerns over the use of the munitions in the crowded city of Rafah and other parts of Gaza.

The US has now clarified that the 500lb bombs had only been held up because they were “co-mingled” in the same shipment as the 2000lb bombs. The lower-impact 500lb bombs will now be “moving forward as part of the usual process”.

The planned resumption of bomb shipments comes as Israel presses ahead with military operations throughout the Gaza Strip. On Wednesday, it dropped leaflets instructing “everyone” in Gaza City to go south to shelters in the Deir al-Balah area, warning that the entire area remained a “dangerous combat zone”.

The paused weapons shipment had previously caused a diplomatic spat.

At a Senate hearing in May, US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin announced the pause, saying: “We’ve been very clear… from the very beginning that Israel shouldn’t launch a major attack into Rafah without accounting for and protecting the civilians that are in that battle space.”

“As we have assessed the situation,” he said, “we have paused one shipment of high payload munitions.”

In June, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu pushed back, publishing a video in which he criticised the US position, saying he had told US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken it was “inconceivable” that weapons and ammunition had been withheld “in the past few months”.

The video, in which Mr Netanyahu spoke English, appeared to be directed at Mr Blinken – and was released one hour before Mr Blinken was due to enter a news conference.

“We genuinely do not know what he’s talking about,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre responded.

Following a visit to Washington in late June, Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said there had been significant progress in resolving the issue, saying “obstacles were removed and bottlenecks were addressed”.

On Thursday, Mr Gallant met US envoy Brett McGurk and discussed “the delivery of critical munitions, some of which will be sent to Israel in the coming days”, according to a statement from Mr Gallant’s office.

Despite the two-month delay in bomb shipments, Israel has continued to receive other types of U.S. weaponry.

But the continued halt in supplying 2,000lb bombs is likely to remain a point of contention between the two allies.

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