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7 May, 2024 13:34

US delaying major arms deliveries to Israel – WSJ

The report is the second in two days to allege that Washington is denying weapons to the Jewish state
US delaying major arms deliveries to Israel – WSJ

The US has stalled the delivery of thousands of bomb-guidance kits to Israel since January, anonymous American officials told the Wall Street Journal on Monday. The White House has not explained whether it is deliberately withholding the weapons, reportedly leaving the Israeli government puzzled by the delay.

Congress first learned in January that the State Department intended to sell Israel up to 6,500 Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM), in a deal worth as much as $260 million, the newspaper’s sources said. JDAM kits bolt to conventional 500 to 2,000-pound bombs, allowing these ‘dumb’ munitions to be guided toward their targets as they fall.

The US State Department is required by law to formally notify Congress of its intent to supply arms to foreign countries if the value of the package exceeds a certain amount ($25 million in the case of NATO members or Israel). However, Congress was never informed of the JDAM sale after January, “triggering an effective pause in the deal,” the Journal reported.

The State Department declined to comment on the apparent holdup. White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby refused to confirm or deny any pause in arms deliveries during a briefing on Monday, but insisted that American security commitments to Israel “are ironclad.”

“It’s unusual, especially for Israel, especially during a war,” a congressional official told the newspaper.

The report came a day after Israeli officials told Axios that the US had abruptly canceled a planned weapons shipment last week. The officials claimed that no reason was given for the cancelation, leaving them “scrambling to understand why the shipment was held.”

It is unclear whether both reports were referring to the same shipment. Had the JDAM kits been cleared for export to Israel, the State Department would have had to issue a formal notification 15 days before the sale. No such notification has been posted on the Defense Security Cooperation Agency’s (DCAA) website, where sales are typically announced.

While US President Joe Biden has never threatened to withhold weapons from Israel, his criticisms of the Jewish state have grown more pointed as Israel’s war with Hamas drags on. Biden has declared that an Israeli invasion of the civilian-crowded city of Rafah would be a “red line,” and publicly rebuked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the “indiscriminate” bombing of Gaza. 

The State Department has also sanctioned Israeli settlers in the West Bank, while the US abstained from a UN Security Council vote in March that allowed a measure demanding an immediate ceasefire between Israel and Hamas to pass.

Despite voicing these criticisms, the Biden administration has kept weapons and ammunition flowing to Israel, reportedly approving more than 100 arms deliveries since October.

Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel on October 7 last year, killing around 1,200 people and taking around 250 hostages. Netanyahu immediately declared war on the militant group, and Israeli forces have to date killed almost 35,000 Palestinians, most of them women and children, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry.

 

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