U.S. President Joe Biden speaks in the South Court Auditorium at the White House

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks in the South Court Auditorium at the White House on February 16, 2023 in Washington, DC.

(Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Biden Moves Forward With 'Immoral' $1 Billion Arms Shipment to Israel

The new shipment was announced "right after the State Department admits Israel has 'likely' used U.S.-supplied weapons in violation of humanitarian law," said one journalist.

Less than a week after U.S. President Joe Biden said he was pausing a shipment of thousands of bombs to Israel, citing concerns over the safety of civilians in Rafah and other "population centers" in Gaza, the White House informed Congress Tuesday that it will soon send over $1 billion more in arms and ammunition to the Israel Defense Forces.

The package includes about $700 million for tank ammunition, $500 million in tactical vehicles, and $60 million in mortar rounds, congressional aides toldTheAssociated Press.

Despite the Biden administration's repeated claims that it believes U.S. bombs should not "be dropped in densely populated cities," Intercept reporter Prem Thakker pointed out that the arms shipment was announced days after the State Department admitted in a report that it was "reasonable" to conclude Israel has used U.S. weapons to violate international humanitarian law in its relentless bombing of Gaza.

It was unclear whether the $1 billion shipment was part of an existing arms sale or a new transaction with Israel. The weapons are not among those included in the $17 billion in military aid for the IDF included in a foreign aid package passed last month.

At Al Jazeera, Shihab Rattansi reported that the weapons shipment is "being presented as the long-term U.S. commitment to supplying Israel with weaponry" and "has been under consideration since mid-spring," with some of the weapons potentially not reaching the IDF for months or even up to three years.

But foreign policy analyst Rula Jebreal suggested that regardless of whether the weapons are used in Rafah, where Israel is currently expanding its assault, the shipment goes "against U.S. national security interest and global standing" and will aid Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "on his lawless path of colonization."

The shipment was announced ahead of a statement released by Amnesty International and other humanitarian groups condemning international governments—including that of the U.S.—for standing by as Israel has killed at least 35,173 Palestinians in Gaza since October while also blocking nearly all humanitarian aid, pushing part of the enclave into famine that is expected to spread.

The U.S. and other suppliers of weapons to Israel must respect last month's United Nations Human Rights Council resolution demanding an end to weapons sales to the IDF, said the groups.

"As the main weapon provider for Israel's military effort, the United States bears a significant responsibility for Israel's international humanitarian law violations. In addition to halting the transfer of high payload bombs, the U.S. should also use all its leverage to halt the ongoing military operation in Rafah," said the organizations, including Relief International and Oxfam. "All states must act now to ensure an immediate and sustained cease-fire."

Amnesty released an analysis late last month showing that U.S. bombs were used in attacks on Gaza that likely fit the definition of war crimes.

Al Jazeera's Tareq Abu Azzoum reported Wednesday from Deir el-Balah, Gaza that Israel has intensified its attacks on Rafah as well as in cities in northern Gaza.

"Over the past couple of hours, we have recorded more victims in central areas of Gaza City," reported Abu Azzoum. "Ten Palestinians have been killed in the city's Sabra neighborhood after a U.N.-run clinic was targeted by Israeli jets."

The IDF said Tuesday that it had hit more than 100 targets across the Gaza Strip in a 24-hour period and was continuing to carry out attacks in Rafah, where more than 1 million Palestinians have been forcibly displaced since October.

Nearly 450,000 people have now been forced to flee the southern city once again, and Al Jazeerareported Tuesday that at least one family that escaped Israel's Rafah incursion was killed days later in an attack on a refugee camp.

Moving forward with another weapons shipment to Israel, said U.S. economic justice group Debt Collective, was "murderous" and "immoral."

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